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Researching Legislation

Delegated Legislation

What is Delegated Legislation?

  • Delegated (or subordinate or subsidiary) legislation refers to those laws made by persons or bodies to whom parliament has delegated law-making authority.
  • Where acts are made by parliament, each principal act makes provision for subsidiary legislation to be made, and will specify who has the power to do so under that act.
  • Delegated legislation can only exist in relation to an enabling act.
  • Delegated legislation contains the many administrative details necessary to ensure that the provisions of the act will operate successfully. It may be administered by Government Departments, Local Councils or Courts.
  • Regulations and Statutory Rules are the most common forms of delegated legislation. They are made by the executive or a minister and apply to the general population. By-laws, and sometimes Ordinances, are made by a local government authority and apply to the people who live in that area. Rules commonly describe procedure to be followed in Courts. Victorian Legislation contains Victorian statutory rules as made.

Types of Delegated Legislation

Delegated Legislation is a term which covers the vast amount of legislation made by government agencies and the Governor-General under authority of Acts of Parliaments, which delegate this power to agencies. This type of legislation is also known as Subordinate Legislation or, since 2005, Legislative Instruments. Within the broad area of Delegated Legislation the following more specific terms are sometimes used:

Regulation The most common form of delegated legislation. Used for legislation of general application emanating from a government department. Published in the Statutory Rules series until 2004 and in the Select Legislative Instrument series from 2005
Rule Legislation specifying procedural formalities, eg court procedures such as the High Court Rules. Published in the Statutory Rules series until 2004
Ordinance Primary legislation of non self governing territories, made by a federal government department to apply to a particular territory. Also used for the legislation of some State local government bodies.
By-law Made by a statutory corporation having effect only within the area of responsibility of the authority. Also used for the legislation of some State local government bodies


There is also a range of other delegated legislation which includes: Decisions, Declarations, Determinations, Directions, Orders, etc.

Regulation Impact Statements

Federal Delegated Legislation

The  Australian Government produces Regulation Impact Statements to accompany any new Legislative Instrument (delegated legislation). These can assist in understanding the reason for the new rule or regulation. From 2013 these are available on the Regulation Impact Statement Update website.  "Official website for publishing regulatory impact analysis information for regulatory decisions announced by the Australian Government, COAG and COAG Councils".

From 1991, Commonwealth Regulation Explanatory Statements are available on the AustLII website.

Victorian Delegated Legislation

The Victorian Government produces Regulatory Impact Statements to accompany any new rules or regulations (delegated legislation). These can be found on the Victorian Regulatory Impact Statements section of the Better Regulation Victoria website. 


Delegated legislation published in Government Gazettes

Most delegated legislation is published on the authorised government legislation websites. For example the Statutory Rules database on the Victorian Legislation website.  See the Legislation Overview guide for links to other government legislation websites. 

On the rare occasion, some delegated legislation is only published in a government gazette.  See the links below to Australian government gazette websites: