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Legislation: Hansard and second reading speeches

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.

Hansard and Second Reading Speeches

Hansard is the name given to transcripts of parliamentary proceedings. It is the official record of Parliamentary Debates. Hansard also provides a record of the progress of a Bill through both Houses of Parliament and records the debates on the Bill.

The Second Reading Speech is part of Hansard where the Minister introducing the Bill to parliament explains its general principles and purpose. Bills are usually introduced into the Lower House of Parliament, and this is where the most useful second reading speeches are recorded. However, you should check Upper House second reading speeches as well.

The history of parliamentary debates is similar to the description given of the history of a newspaper. The first day it is read with eagerness, the next day it is thrown away; after the lapse of some years it is worth its weight in gold. The ancient volumes of Hansard, imperfect as they are, are often intensely interesting reading for the light they throw on dead statesmen, or past conditions of society, legislation and controversies.

Lord Cadogan, Lord Privy Seal, in a draft report submitted to the Joint Committee of the British Parliament on Debates and Proceedings in Parliament. Lords Sessional Papers, XV, 1888.

From: Parliament of Western Australia. About Hansard

Western Australia - Hansard

Parliament of Western Australia (Hansard) 1870-present

Hansard Search
The Hansard Search facility allows searching of Hansard back to 1870.

  • Search by date, Member, House or subject keywords.

Second Reading Speech Search
If you already have the page number of the speech in Hansard, then select the relevant search option and search on the page number.

Alternatively, the Second Reading Speech  for a Western Australian Bill is available in the Bills section of the Parliament of Western Australia website.

  1. Search for the Bill by title. To include Bills that are now Acts, select the checkbox "all Bills". Alternatively, browse to the Bill by title
  2. Click on the Bill title to display a table which provides details of progress through Parliament. The Bill number, a Synopsis and Status of the Bill are provided in addition to links to the full-text of the Bill and associated Explanatory Memorandum
  3. In the Progress table, for both Houses, next to the heading "second reading speech" the page number eg p.4396. provides a link to the full-text of the second reading speech
  4. If this link is not there take note of the date of the second reading and conduct a search of the Hansard for your Bill using the date feature of the advanced search options


Commonwealth - Hansard

ParlInfo Search (through the Parliament of Australia website)
Search Hansard using this option by clicking on the ParlInfo Search link in the top right of any page. Select the Advanced Search/Browse tab, and then tick the boxes for Hansard under each House.

Parliament of Australia - Hansard 1901+
Select Hansard from the home page of the Parliament of Australia website. You can also browse by Year, House and Committee.

Second Reading Speech Search
Follow the Guided Search steps in the ParlInfo Search - select the Second Reading Speeches for a Bill search option.

Parliament of Australia - Bills
Second reading speeches are also available on the homepage for each Bill.

  1. Hover your mouse over the Parliamentary Business tab, then select the Bills and Legislation option
  2. Use the Search all bills search box to search by keyword, or Browse all bills by title (if you know the name of the Bill)
  3. Click on the title of the Bill
  4. Under Transcript of speeches, select All second reading speeches 
  5. Select from PDF and XML versions

Note: Second reading speech or Bill Digest not listed
These are sometimes lost when the name of the Bill changes by year.
For example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Amendment Bill 2005 [2006] ...
If the document is not available, go to Parliament of Australia > Parlinfo Search > Guided Search
Select either Second Reading Speeches for a Bill, or
Documents relating to a Bill (for Bill, Bills Digests & EM)


You can also use the Lawlex database to locate Western Australian and Cth Hansard and / or Second Reading speeches (where available). 

Hansard in print

Hansard may be available in the Legislation Collection on Level 3 of the Beasley Law Library.
CTH - 1977+
WA - 1978+

To locate a second reading speech in this collection:

  1. Check the Hansard index volume for the year the Act was passed and the previous year as well
  2. Western Australian Hansard has a separate index for each year. Alternatively, look up the Bill alphabetically by title in the Subject index. Commonwealth Hansard has indexes in the back of the last volume for the year. In addition, all Bills are listed in the subject index in alphabetical order under Bills
  3. Find the Bill and look for any references to 2R  or Second Reading under the Bill name.  Write down the page numbers listed.  There will usually be a series of page numbers as the debate can be adjourned and continue at a later date
  4. Locate the second reading speech at the page numbers indicated in the volumes for that year

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