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How to find...: Legislation


Here are some of the key terms you will use. Click on the information icon for a definition.

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What is legislation?

Legislation constitute primary sources of law and comprise of laws passed by Parliament. Legislation is made up of Acts and Regulations. An Act begins as a proposal and becomes a Bill, which proceeds through its parliamentary stages, eventually becoming an Act. Once the Principle Act is passed, it can be altered by Ammendments.

In Australia, Acts must be passed by both house of either the Federal (Commonwealth) or State Parliament.

For more on legislation see:

Finding Acts

Here are two examples of Acts:

  • The Defence Act 1903 (Cth) is a Commonwealth statute. Australia's defence is the responsibility of the Federal government. 
  • The Mental Health Act 1996 (WA) is a Western Australian Act that defines the terms and responsibilities for mental health administration in W.A. 

To locate an Act you'll need to know the jurisdiction i.e. state or Commonwealth. This is often outlined in the long title. The jurisdiction will dictate which database you will need to search:‚Äč

You can browse Acts alphabetically by title or you can search by keyword.

Finding Regulations

Here are some Regulations that relate to the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA)

  • Clean Air Regulations 1967 
  • Environmental Protection Regulations 1987   
  • Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997.  

These Regulations define who can decide on acceptable levels of noise etc, the penalties and how the decisions can be appealed.

To find the Regulations for a particular Act you can search:

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Finding Hansard

Reading Hansard can be useful for understanding the background to issues and debates of the time.

Finding Bills

Some Bills, e.g. Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 1998, a Western Australian Bill, have never been passed.  

Search for current and previous Bills: