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Media Law: Legislation

What is legislation?

Legislation, also known as statutory law or statutes or Acts, constitutes primary sources of law and are the laws passed by Parliament. There are two forms of legislation: statutes or Acts (made by Parliament) and delegated or subordinate legislation (made by those who Parliament has delegated power to). In Australia, Acts must be passed by both houses of either the Federal (Commonwealth) or State Parliament.

An Act begins as a proposal and becomes a Bill, which proceeds through its parliamentary stages, eventually becoming an Act.

Once the Principlal Act is passed, it can be altered by Amendments or Amending Acts which have also been passed by Parliament. From time to time, a Reprint of the Act, including all its amendments, may be issued.  Amendments can be passed after a reprint, which means that you may have to find them in order to get the full picture of the Act.

For more on legislation see:

Types of Acts

Generally, there are different types of Acts:

  • Principal acts - original act passed by Government
  • Amending acts - these acts make changes to the principal act and should be read together with the principal act
  • Reprinted acts - incorporates all the changes made to the original and amending acts
  • Acts in force - acts that have become part of law and deemed operational
  • Ceased acts - legislation that is no longer in force, due to it being repealed, expired, revoked or superseded

Finding specific Acts

To locate a specific Act (e.g. Mental Health Act 1996 WA) you first need to know the jurisdiction i.e. Western Australian or Commonwealth. This is often outlined in the long title. The jurisdiction will dictate which database you will need to search in:

You can also check for a print copy in the Library (Note: singles Acts don't often appear in Library catalogues. Libraries treat them as journals, so look for titles such as Acts of Parliament of Western Australia or Acts of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia).

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Western Australia legislation