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Legislation: Explanatory memoranda and committee reports

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.

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 3 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)

Committee reports

In both State and Federal Parliament, Bills are considered by various Committees during their passage through Parliament.  In each House, a Committee of the Whole house (with members from a range of parties) considers the Bill and this is when amendments can be made.  This occurs after the Second Reading of the Bill.

Sometimes Bills are referred to special committees, such as Select Committees, Standing Committees or Legislation Committees.  These Committees publish reports which can give researchers an insight into the background to a Bill, areas of debate or disagreement, and any policy issues that might arise.  Committee Recommendations are not always adopted by the Government, but the Ministerial responses to recommendations are usually available with the Reports.

Western Australia


  • The Committees tab on the Parliament of Australia website provides access to Senate and House of Representatives Committee reports and further information about Committees.

CTH - New Senate Committee enquiries - RSS

This feed contains information on new inquiries that have been referred to Senate committees.

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CTH - New Senate Committee reports tabled - RSS

This feed contains information on the tabling of reports by Senate Committees and Joint Committees that are administered by the Senate.

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