Legislation

1. Acts

1.1 Queensland Statutes

All current Queensland Acts are held in print in the State Library's Reference collection on level 2 at REF 346.9431. The Reference collection includes reprints (1828-1962) arranged alphabetically by subject, and bound volumes, issued annually, of all Acts passed during that year.

1.2 Reprints

Some Acts are reprinted, usually because they are significant Acts which have been amended many times. Reprints incorporate all the amendments that have been made up to the time of being reprinted. If an Act has not been reprinted, you need to use the Annotations to track the amendments that were made to the Act over time.

1.3 Annotations

What are they?
Annotations record all the amendments to an Act, so you can find which version of the Act was in force at a particular time. The Annotations list the Acts alphabetically by title, and their amendments are listed in date order.

How and why do you use Annotations?
Suppose you wanted a 1905 version of the Oaths Act of 1867. You would go to the Annotations to find a list of all the amendments that took place to the Oaths Act between 1867 and 1905. The Annotations will give you the details of the relevant amending Acts so you can find them in the published statutes by title and date.

There are separate versions of the annotations for Repealed Legislation and of Acts that are still in force. There are bound volumes of Annotations for current and repealed legislation in the reference collection on level 2 at REF 346.943. However, the Annotations have not been released in print since 2014. You can find the current and superseded Annotations from 1992+ online through the website of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel.

1.4 Legislation online

In 1992, the Queensland Office of Parliamentary Counsel (QOPC) began making legislation available online. Since then, it has been retrospectively adding earlier legislation and the site currently provides access to Acts as passed from 1963.

On the QOPC site you can find current legislation with links to their earlier versions, subordinate legislation, links to repealed legislation, Acts as passed and Bills introduced to Parliament each year.

1.5 Historical Legislation

Historical Queensland legislation is available online through the OzCase project. This site provides access to a range of resources including the Queensland Consolidated Acts 1828-1936, historical versions of the Queensland Criminal Code and Queensland land legislation 1833-1910.

2. Bills

Bills are proposals for new laws to amend an existing Act or create a new Act. To become law, a Bill must pass through both houses of Parliament. Not all Bills tabled in Parliament become Acts: some are defeated and others lapse.

On its way to becoming an Act, a Bill is raised for discussion in Parliament three times. The discussion arising is recorded in the Parliamentary Debates, also known as Hansard. (For more about Hansard, see below). The second reading provides the most detailed explanation of the policy behind the Bill so for the purposes of legal research, it is the most useful.

Queensland Bills up to 2012 are held in print in the John Oxley collection. These are held in storage and can be retrieved on request. Waiting times will apply. Many Bills are also catalogued individually so you can find them by title in the State Library's catalogue.

Queensland Bills from 1992 onwards are available on the QOPC website.

3. Regulations

Regulations are the administrative component of the parent Act. This is where you will find the detail of how the Act will be administered and enforced, for instance: any licences that are required, age limits, fees, penalties etc. The Regulations were formed by the merger of various types of subordinate legislation, including the Queensland Statutory Instruments, the Regulations, Rules, and By-laws, and Proclamations and Orders in Council.

3.1 Finding Regulations

  • In print: The State Library holds the Regulations for various periods in both the general collection and the John Oxley collection. The general collection holds 1991-2003 and the John Oxley Library collection holds 1991 onwards.
  • Online: Regulations are online (1991+) with their parent act on the website of the Queensland Office of Parliamentary Counsel (QOPC).

3.2 Explanatory Memoranda

What is Explanatory Memoranda?

Every Bill now tabled in Parliament is accompanied by explanatory notes, also known as explanatory memorandum in some states. The purpose of these is to provide an explanation of the government's reason for introducing the Bill. Various sections of the Bill will also be explained in detail if necessary.

Explanatory notes were introduced for Queensland Bills in 1992 by Premier Wayne Goss.

Printed copies of the Queensland explanatory notes from 1992 are available in the Reference collection on level 2 at REF 346.9431. They are also held in storage in the John Oxley Library (1991-2011).

Brief explanations about Queensland Acts prior to 1992 can be found in the Record of the Legislative Acts. These are held in storage and can be retrieved on request. Waiting times will apply. You can also check the Queensland Government Gazette for discussion about very early (19th century) Bills. You can track this down through the index to the Government Gazette 1850–1907 in John Oxley Library at REFJ328.943 que, via the subject headings in the index.

3.3 Hansard

Hansard was established in Queensland in 1864, five years after separation from New South Wales. In the first few years of the new colony, the Moreton Bay Courier published long reports of parliamentary proceedings.  The first official Hansard was published for the sittings on 26 April 1864.

Queensland Hansards originally included the debates of both the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly. The Legislative Council was abolished in 1922 so Queensland Hansard from that date only reports the debates of the Legislative Assembly.

The State Library holds the Queensland Parliamentary Debates on microfilm (1864-1998) in the Micrographics Room on level 3 of the State Library.
The John Oxley Library on level 4 holds the Debates in print (1877+). These are not on open access and waiting times will apply while they are retrieved from storage

The Parliamentary Debates are online on the Queensland Parliament site (1860+) and on the Text Queensland site (1860-63: 1981+)

4. Federal (Commonwealth) publications

4.1 Commonwealth Acts

The Acts of the Australian Federal government are published as Commonwealth Statutes. They are available (1901+) in print in the Reference collection on level 2 at REF 346.9401

4.2 Commonwealth legislation online

Commonwealth Acts and Bills are online on the Federal Register of Legislation
The Federal Register of Legislation site provides access to Acts as made from 1901 onwards, Act compilations from 1973 onwards, and Bills and most explanatory memoranda from 1996 onwards.

4.3 Annotations for the federal statutes

The Federal Statutes Annotations are available online through the LexisNexis database, which you can access the State Library's law databases.

4.4 Commonwealth Debates

The Commonwealth debates (Hansard) are now published separately for the Senate and the House of Representatives. They have been published under a variety of titles over the years (eg: Parliamentary Debates, Official Record of the Debates etc). Debates for both the Senate and the House of Representatives are available in print in the State Library's collection.

The Debates for the Senate and the House of Representatives, 1901+ are available online on the Parliament of Australia website.

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