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Researching Legislation

Bills, Explanatory Memoranda (EM) and Hansard

An Act starts out as a Bill prepared by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. When introduced to Parliament, it may be accompanied by a document summarising the new law and explaining the Bill clause by clause (Explanatory Memorandum or Explanatory Statement), a Bills Digest (background document published by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library) or an Alert Digest (Victorian legislation) as well as the second reading speech provided by the Minister responsible for introducing the Bill and reproduced in Hansard.

Commonwealth of Australia Bills & EMs, Hansard, Bills Digest

Australian Capital Territory Bills, Explanatory Statements, Hansard

New South Wales Bills and Explanatory Notes, Hansard

Northern Territory Bills, Hansard 

Queensland Bills and Explanatory Notes, Hansard

South Australia Bills, Hansard

Tasmania Bills, Hansard

Victoria Bills, EMs, Hansard, Alert Digest

Western Australia Bills & EMs, Hansard


Searching for Commonwealth Bills and Extrinsic Materials

The Bill we will locate in this example is the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2015.

  • Select Advanced Search/Browse

  • Enter some key words from the title of the Bill eg. renewable energy electricity

  • Scroll down to Bills and Legislation, and depending on the date of the Bill, select Current or Previous Parliaments

  • Click on Search
  • Look for the result with [Bill Homepage] next to the title of the Bill as this contains all the material relating to that Bill. If there are a lot of results, you can use the limits on the left of the screen to refine your list

Parlinfo Advanced Search Tips


Pre 1982 Commonwealth Explanatory Memoranda or Explanatory Statements?

From 1901 to 1982 not all Commonwealth Bills had an accompanying Explanatory Memorandum. The Parliamentary Library has produced an Index to Explanatory Memoranda 1901-1982.  There is also useful information on the Was there an EM? webpage. Under section 15AB of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth), explanatory memorandum are considered as extrinsic materials when researching the interpretative process of legislation. 


Searching for Victorian Bills

Go to Victorian Legislation

To find a Bill currently before Parliament, select  then  for search options and a list of current Bills:


Once you have found the current Bill in the list, click on the title link to go to its homepage:



Extensive information about the Bill's legislative progress is supplied:





FInding the Bill of an Act currently in force:

Example: Find the Bill of the Film Approval Act 2014 (Vic).

Select  then 

Select the staring letter for the Act:

and click 

Scroll down and click on

The Bill homepage links to the Bill as introduced to Parliament (Introduction print) and the Bill as passed.


Searching for Victorian Extrinsic Materials

To find the EM of a Bill currently before Parliament go to Victorian Legislation, select  then  for search options and a list of current Bills (as described above).

Example: Locate the EM to the current Assisted Reproductive Treatment Amendment Bill 2020.

At   scroll down to the Bills list and click on the title you require:

At the Bill homepage, select the PDF or Word version of the EM:



To find the EM of an Act, you need to locate the homepage for its Bill.

Example: Find the EM to the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic) from Victorian Legislation

Select  then 

Select the starting letter of the Act:

then click for an alphabetical list.

The Public Health and Wellbeing Bill 2008 is on page 

Click on and scroll down to 

Remember that a Bill may take over 12 months to pass through the legislative process, so take care if nominating a year in the 

search box: it may be earlier than the year of the Act!