Law Library

 

Melbourne Law School Law Library Guide

Guide to Victorian Legislation & Parliamentary Research

This guide will help you when you need to find, search, track and explore Victorian legislation.


I need to know the difference between a Bill and an Act

A Bill

A bill is a plan for a new or altered law that is put before a parliament. Every year the Parliament of Victoria considers and passes 70-100 bills.

A bill does not become a law unless it is:

  • agreed to by the majority of parliamentarians in both the House of Representatives and the Senate chambers
  • passed by both chambers in precisely the same wording
  • signed by the Governor.

An Act

A bill passed by the Parliament and signed by the Governor is called an Act of Parliament. The Parliament can change, amend or even delete (repeal) an Act of Parliament.

Further information:

How parliament works
Making laws

Parliamentary web sites have a wealth of information, including primary materials (the Bills themselves, Hansard) and secondary materials (Explanatory Memoranda, Parliamentary Committee reports). Help material is also often available.

 

Key sources for Victorian Legislation

Acts from 1851-1995

  • Victorian Historical Acts on AustLII
    This site contains all Victorian Acts from 1851 - 1995, as made. The Acts are photocopies of the original printed Acts, and may be used as the "official" versions.
  • Print sources
    Some older legislative materials may only be found in print.
    Victorian Reprinted Acts and subordinate legislation - found in Reserve, Law Library.
    Victorian Sessional Acts and Hansard – found on Level 4, Law Library.

Acts from 1996 -

  • Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents
    The Victorian Parliamentary and Document web site has consolidated versions of Victorian legislation. It contains all Acts and Rules passed by Victorian Parliament since 1996. From 1996 you can obtain Bills, Explanatory Memorandum and other parliamentary documents.
  • TimeBase
    The TimeBase database includes consolidated versions of Victorian legislation. It contains all Acts and Rules passed by Victorian Parliament since 1998. Law One is the more comprehensive service providing all that is available in Legislation with CaseLink plus additional material from 2003 such as explanatory memoranda and second reading speeches.
  • Parliament of Victoria
    The Parliament of Victoria website has Hansard for both Houses of Parliament from 1999, plus information about Parliamentary committees and sitting dates.
  • Lawlex
    While we don't have a full subscription to Lawlex, useful free features include links to full text legislation on free government websites, parliamentary materials for recent legislation and a very comprehensive subject index to legislation.

 

Warning! In Victoria , html versions of legislation on sites such as AustLII may not be up to date or accurate.

 

Current consolidation or Act as passed… which version of an Act do I want?

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website

  • Law Today
    If you wish to view a current version of an Act/Rule incorporating all the amendments, you need to choose the Law Today database.
  • Statute book
    This provides all legislation since 1996 that has been passed by Parliament. It is a useful resource when searching for amending legislation.
  • Historical versions (also known as "as made" or "as passed" or Sessional Acts ie: not incorporating any subsequent amendments)
    In the Law Today database you can view the legislation since 1996 in its historical version. For example, if you wished to view the Property Law Act as it was in July 2002 you would use the 'Version History' link.

 

Victorian Historical Acts on AustLII for older Acts (1851-1995) as made.

 

TimeBase

  • Current Acts
    This contains the current version of an Act incorporating all the amendments.
    Warning!
    Please check the currency statement on the front screen to see the last amendment included.
  • Numbered Lists
    This provides all "as made" (ie: unamended) legislation since 1998 that has been passed by Parliament. It is a useful resource when searching for amending legislation.

 

I need to… get a copy of an Act that I know the name of

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents- use the Law Today database. Please note you will need to select Acts or Statutory Rules before selecting the alphabetical letter you wish to choose.

TimeBase Law One (Victoria) – select Current Acts, enter the first few letters in the Starting with field and click on Go.

 

I need to… get a current copy of subordinate legislation that I know the name of

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents - use the Law Today database. Please note you will need to select Acts or Statutory Rules before selecting the alphabetical letter you wish to choose.

TimeBase Law One (Victoria) – select Current Regulations, enter the first few letters in the Starting with field and click on Go.

 

I need to… check whether an Act is up to date

The easiest way to know if your Act is up to date with the latest legislative activity is to use a reliable source for legislation. We recommend Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents - Law Today database. Locate your Act and ensure it's the latest version. Check the Notes at the end of the Act to see the amendments included in the version.

Warning! You may wish to check the current Bills Activity to find any Bills that have recently passed or may soon pass and affect your Act. Use Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents – Parliamentary Documents – Bills.

 

I need to… check whether an amendment is in force

To check amendments in relation to a principal Act:

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents- Law Today. Locate the Act and view the Endnotes - Table of Amendments.

TimeBase Law One (Victoria) – locate the Act and view the End Notes.

To check an amendment Act:

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents - Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel - Acts Commencement Information. Locate the amendment Act using the chronological lists.

Government gazettes - search Gazettes for the relevant Act name.

Capital Monitor – check Victoria Proclamations using the chronological lists.

 

I need to… find any regulations made under an Act

TimeBase Law One (Victoria) – Locate the current Act then click on the Subordinate Legislation link.

 

I need to… find relevant legislation on a topic (but I don't know the name)

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents - Law Today. Use a keywords or phrase search of current Acts.

TimeBase LawOne (Victoria) – use the search box on the left of the screen.

Lawlex - Click on Search Legislation - Select Browse legislation tab and browse by subject.

You could also try using secondary sources (books, legal encyclopaedia and journal articles) to identify legislation relevant to a topic.

 

I need to… find information to help me understand an Act (extrinsic material)

There are two types of extrinsic material that can be used in statutory interpretation:

1. Hansard (Second Reading speech and parliamentary debates)

The second reading speech is the Minister's speech introducing the legislation to the House of Parliament, and the debates are the discussion in Parliament that follows. Both the speech and debates may continue over several days.

2. Explanatory Memoranda (EM)

Explanatory memoranda are a plain-English summary of a Bill and its intentions. Not every Bill has an EM.

Sources of Extrinsic Material:

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents - Parliamentary Documents- click 'Bills' for current Bills or 'Archive' for old Bills since 1996 and link to Second Reading Speeches and Explanatory Memorandum.

TimeBase Law One (Victoria) – find the relevant Bill (2003+) - link to Second Reading Speeches and Explanatory Memoranda.

Victorian Parliament – Hansard – search Hansard (1991+) using the Bill title to find Second Reading Speeches and debates.

 

I need to… find cases where the court has determined the meaning of a section of an Act (judicial consideration or interpretation)

Casebase- use the 'Legislation judicially considered' field. Hint: the most effective way to conduct your search is trade practices act w/p 52 ( this would find cases that have judicially considered the s.52. of the Trade Practices Act )

Firstpoint- use the 'Legislation judicially considered' field. Hint: the most effective way to conduct your search is “trade practices act 52”@5 ( this would find cases that have judicially considered the s.52. of the Trade Practices Act )

TimeBase- find the relevant section and click on 'Case Link'. For High Court, Federal Court and the Federal Magistrate's Court you can view full text decisions. If there is no Case Link, try the other tools listed here also.

LawCite - useful because not limited to Australian cases.  

 

I need to… find words and phrases defined in legislation

LexisNexisAU – Australian Legal Words and Phrases

TimeBase LawOne (Victoria) – use the search box on the left of the screen.

 

I need to… monitor changes to an Act or an area of law

TimeBase Law One - create an email alert.

 

I need to… monitor the progress of a Bill

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents - Parliamentary Documents – Bills Status List.

Go to TimeBase Law One (Victoria) - Daily Bills Activity.

 

Other useful materials

 

What if I still need help?

Catriona Cook (et al), Laying Down the Law ( 7th ed, 2009) – this book is a great resource for getting started with legislation research and statutory interpretation.

Ask a Librarian at the Law Library Information Desk for assistance with your specific question – we look forward to helping you!

Email: law-library@unimelb.edu.au

Telephone: +61 3 8344 8913

This guide last updated on 7 April 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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