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Legislation: Delegated legislation

This Guide provides information on how to find Acts, Delegated Legislation, Bills, Parliamentary documents and extrinsic materials for Australian jurisdictions. It also provides information on how to keep up to date with 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, a Principal Act may make 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 or parent 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

Delegated Legislation can apply to many areas of the law:

  • Procedure (court rules)
  • Mining and energy
  • Native title
  • Family law
  • Criminal law
  • Food standards
  • Civil aviation
  • Corporations
  • Superannuation
  • Taxation
  • Migration

Here are some examples:

The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) Part XII Regulations – authorises the Copyright (International Protection) Regulations 1969 (Cth) and the Copyright Regulations 1969 (Cth).

The Supreme Court Act 1935 (WA) Part X Rules of Court - includes authorisation of the Rules of the Supreme Court 1971 (WA).

The Fisheries Department is responsible for writing fisheries Regulations that contain details of any Notices, Orders and Penalties in relation to the types of fish that can be caught, the licence requirements, opening seasons for different types of fishing licences and so on.

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:

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

Legislation specifying procedural formalities, eg court procedures such as the High Court Rules. Published in the Statutory Rules series until 2004

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.

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.


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