Skip to Main Content

Legal Research

Finding the purpose, scope and intention of specific legislation

"Purpose" and "interpretation" provisions are sometimes available within the text of an Act, Bill or regulation to determine the purpose and scope of the legislation.

Sources outside the Act used to interpret and understand the purpose or intention of legislation are called "extrinsic materials", and includes:

  • Explanatory Memoranda (or Explanatory Notes)
  • Second Reading Speeches (available in Hansard)
  • Parliamentary debates (Hansards)
  • Parliamentary and Government reports
  • Government Gazette

Finding extrinsic material

Tip: See the Government information guide for more detailed information on how to find and access extrinsic materials.

Extrinsic material are available from parliamentary and government websites and through databases such as Lexis Advance Research, Lawlex and AustLII. See finding legislation.

Parliamentary debates are transcripts of parliamentary proceedings (ie they provide a verbatim record of what was said in Parliament, including Second Reading Speeches).

Explanatory Memoranda and Second Reading Speeches are often linked from the Act or Bill within databases. Older material may only be available in print sources. See debates, speeches & announcements.

Parliamentary papers are government reports that have been tabled (presented) in Parliament and subsequently 'ordered to be printed'. Many published government reports are also published in 'parliamentary paper' versions. See reports & papers.

Government Gazettes are official publications for the purpose of notifying the actions and decisions of the state and federal governments. See debates, speeches & announcements.