Government Legislation & Publications: Australian Government (Federal)

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Key to library resources

Access anywhere with a library card In the Library (or anywhere with a Library card for NSW residents)
Available to access in the library Only in the Library
Publicly available online Publicly available

Acts and regulations

Commonwealth Acts and regulations

Australia became an independent nation on 1 January 1901. The British Parliament passed legislation allowing the six Australian colonies to govern in their own right as part of the Commonwealth of Australia. For more information see Australia’s federation.


Acts (of Parliament): The law made by parliament and often referred to as an Act of Parliament. Sometimes referred to as a statute or legislation.

Amendment: Change or alteration to existing legislation or acts.

As made: Acts as originally passed by parliament without amendments. Also referred to as Sessional Acts or Acts as passed.

Commencement: An act comes into force 28 days after it is assent to, or on a day or days to be appointed by proclamation. A clause, stating whether the act comes into force by assent or proclamation, usually appears at the beginning of each bill.

Consolidated Acts: Consolidated Acts incorporate amendments made by other legislation since the original legislation was made. A consolidated Act refers to the combination of a number of Acts of Parliament into one codifying statute.

In force: Current Acts or regulations. Currently in force.

Point in time: Point in time legislative research means establishing the content of an Act at a specific date or point in time. Point in time Act is used interchangeably with the term Historical Act or Reprint.

Regulations (Statutory Rules): A law made under the authority of an Act of Parliament. Regulations are 'delegated' or 'subsidiary' legislation. Other delegated legislation includes rules, ordinances, by-laws and codes. Also known as Statutory Rules.

Royal Assent: The signing of a bill by the Governor-General, which is the last step in making a bill into an Act of Parliament, or law.

Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) - Documenting a Democracy

An Act to Constitute the Commonwealth of Australia - 9th July 1900

To learn more about the Australian Constitution, visit The Australian Constitution page by the Parliamentary Education Office.

Search the Library catalogue to find printed copies of the Australian Constitution in our collection.

Examples of search terms:

  • "Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 63 & 64 Vic" 
  • "Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act" 

Finding Historical legislation

To find an Act which was in force at a specific date (point in time)

Publicly available onlineOnline (1901+)

  1. Visit Federal Register of Legislation - Acts: No longer in Force
  2. Choose the Act from the alphabetical list.
  3. Select the View Series tab to see what consolidated reprints are available online.

Available to access in the libraryIn print at the State Library (1901+)

  1. Choose consolidated Acts from the period ending 1935, 1966 or 1973.
  2. Acts are arranged alphabetically by title.

TIP: To reconstruct the Act as it applied at the date relevant to your research, try the publication Federal statutes annotations which is available at the State Library.  This will list the amendments to each section of an Act. It will help you trace amendments to an act from the date of the reprint to the date relevant to your research.

How laws are made - Parliament

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