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Researching Legislation

Explanatory memorandum

Explanatory memorandum
"An executive document issued by a minister explaining the aims and operation of a statute. In statutory interpretation, if the meaning of a provision in an Act is ambiguous or obscure, or the ordinary meaning conveyed by the text of the provision, taking into account its context in the Act, leads to a result that is manifestly absurd or unreasonable, reference may be made to explanatory memoranda in order to ascertain the meaning of the provision."
Peter Butt (ed), LexisNexis Concise Australian Legal Dictionary (LexisNexis Butterworths, 4th ed, 2011)

The availability of explanatory memorandum for each jurisdiction will vary.

Commonwealth of Australia Bills & EMs

Australian Capital Territory Bills and Explanatory Statements

New South Wales Bills and Explanatory Notes

Northern Territory Bills

Queensland Bills and Explanatory Notes

South Australia Bills, Hansard

Tasmania Bills, Hansard

Victoria Bills & EMs

Western Australia Bills & EMs

Finding EMs using Lawlex

Lawlex provides links to second reading speeches and EMs from the Act's Core Document Homepage.

 Search for the Act: 


 Click on the link: 


 At the Core Document Homepage, locate EM under If there is a revised or supplementary EM, they'll be listed there as well.

Finding EMs using LawNow

LawNow, on Lexis Advance Pacific, is a full text legislation service, including current, repealed and historical versions of Australian legislation.

Each piece of legislation includes a detailed legislative history, plus links to subordinate legislation, a list of defined terms and a downloadable PDF document.

Each bill document includes links to explanatory memorandum and second reading speeches, where available.

To locate: Click the arrow next to 'LawNow' from the 'Publications' list on the homepage. Choose the relevant jurisdiction and select 'Browse Legislation'.