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Law - Legal research guide: Legislation: Bills

Find out about acts, delegated legislation, bills, parliamentary documents and extrinsic materials for Australian jurisdictions


Bills are acts in draft form.

Every bill has three readings in each House of Parliament. It is usually amended several times before being given royal assent and becoming an act.

One way to keep an eye on changes in different areas of law is to monitor the bills before parliament.

Each bill is accompanied by an explanatory statement, often referred to as an explanatory memorandum. This statement explains the content of the bill, provision by provision.

Commonwealth - Bills

Commonwealth - RSS feed - Bills Digests

This feed links to Bills Digests which provide a plain English summary of Bills and detail their purpose, background and main provisions (from Parliament of Australia).


Other Australian jurisdictions - Bills

Explanatory memoranda

Explanatory Memoranda (EM) are publications which accompany Commonwealth and State Bills. Their purpose is to explain the Bill, clause by clause, initially when it is debated in parliament. Subsequently they are useful for statutory interpretation.

Learn more about the history of EMs from this article 'Was There an EM?" from the Australian Parliamentary Library. 

Western Australia

  • EMs were rarely published prior to 2000. They are now compulsory with all Bills. They are available for most Bills from 2000 onwards on the Bills tab on the Parliament of Western Australia website.
  • If an EM is available it will be listed on the Bill homepage (click on the name of the Bill to see the Bill homepage)
  • Explanatory Memoranda (Pre-2000)


  • Before 1982: use the Index to Explanatory Memoranda 1901-1982 on the Parliamentary Library webpage
  • From 1982, the provision of EMs has been standard practice for Commonwealth Bills. Some of these may be available on the shelf in the Legislation collection on Level 2 of the Beasley Law Library
  • From 1996 EMs are available online under the Bills tab on the Parliament of Australia webpage. Browse the alphabetical list of Bills by the name of the Bill. EMs are linked from the Bill homepage


Explanatory statements are available from either the Act homepage or from the Bill homepage if not yet assented.
CTH - 1996+
WA - 2001+ (where available)

Western Australia - Bills

Western Australia - RSS feed - new Bills

This feed advises of recent Bill activity within the Western Australian parliament. You can also subscribe to email tracking of each new Bill in the WA Parliament.