The primary source of all Victorian legislation is the Victorian Government’s Victorian Legislation website. Electronic versions of Victorian legislation on this website are classified as authorised versions, (including for evidentiary purposes) under the Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984 (Vic), Part V.
This Chapter will explain how to find Victorian legislation and resources using authorised free government websites.
Finding Bills & Extrinsic Materials
To locate a Victorian Bill and its accompanying Explanatory Memorandum, search for the Bill title in the Bills section of the Victorian Legislation website. Bills which are currently before Parliament are located in the Bills in Parliament section. To search for all other Bills (including those which have been passed, withdrawn, defeated or lapsed) search for the Bill title in the All Bills section of the website.
Once you locate the Bill core document page, you will find links to the text version of the Bill, the Explanatory Memorandum, as well as links to proposed amendments, and related parliamentary debates. From 2006, a link to the Statement of Compatibility made in accordance with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) will also be located on the Bill core document page.
Finding Aids for Bills on the Parliament of Victoria’s website
Finding historical Bills and parliamentary debates
If a Bill is not available on the Victorian Legislation website, the AustLII website has a historical collection of Victorian Bills (1967-) and Victorian Explanatory Memoranda (1911-). Some libraries will also hold print copies of historical collections of Victorian Bills.
The Parliament of Victoria website has searchable parliamentary debates (from 1991 onwards) in the Hansard database. Daily Hansard is also available from 1999 onwards, and digitised PDF versions of Hansard volumes for the period 1865-1999 are also available.
Understanding the usefulness of Extrinsic Materials
When undertaking legislative legal research, it can be useful to research for the parliamentary intention as to why the legislation was created or amended. This process is known as statutory interpretation. Under section 35 of the Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984 (Vic), extrinsic materials may be used to aid in the interpretation of provisions of legislation. Some examples of extrinsic materials are:
• Explanatory Memoranda
• parliamentary documents
• reports of Royal Commissions, Parliamentary Committees, Law Reform Commissioners and Commissions, Boards of Inquiry, Formal Reviews or other similar bodies.
• Statements of Compatibility made in accordance with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)
• parliamentary proceedings published in Victorian Hansard (such as second reading speeches & debates on clauses of Bills)
NOTE: Second reading speeches will normally start with the phrase “That this bill be now read a second time” and will end with the phrase “I commend the Bill to the house”.
Finding Victorian Acts – As Passed
Once a Victorian Bill has been passed and receives Royal Assent, it will be allocated an Act number. To find versions of Acts, as they are passed, search for the Act title or year and number of the Act, in the Legislation as Made – Acts as enacted section of the Victorian Legislation website.
Finding Victorian Acts – In Force
Once a Principal Act has been amended, a consolidated version of the Act will be placed in the Legislation in Force – Acts in Force section of the Victorian Legislation website. Using a title search, navigate to the core document page of the Act. A PDF version of the current Act will be available. There will also be a table of previous versions of the Act for “point in time” research purposes.
Researching Amendments to Victorian Acts
Victorian Acts contain margin notes next to sections. These margin notes will indicate if the section of the Principal Act has been amended/inserted or repealed. The notation will contain the Act number and year and relevant section of the Amending Act. The EndNotes, at the end of the in force version, will contain a list of all Amending Acts since the publication of the last version.
A note about online versions and former consolidations
Online versions of Victorian Acts on the Victorian Legislation website generally commenced in 1997. To find historical consolidations of Victorian Acts you may need to refer to hardcopy reprints of Acts. Many Victorian law libraries maintain a historical print collection of Victorian reprinted Acts. Prior to reprinted Acts, major Victorian Acts were produced in consolidated volumes for the years 1864/65, 1890, 1915, 1928/29, and 1958. For example, the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) was a consolidated Act, meaning that the 1958 version included all amendments to the Wrongs Act up to 1958. The first page of a consolidated Act will have a sub-title description in a format like: ‘An Act to consolidate the Law relating to Wrongs’.
Consolidated Acts between the years 1864-1958 do not generally have an explanatory memorandum or second reading speeches. The exception is the Companies Act 1958 (Vic) which does have an explanatory memorandum and a second reading speech, which are bound with the Act in the 1958 consolidation volume.
Finding historical Victorian Acts on AustLII
Acts enacted by the Victorian Parliament from 1851 to 1995 are available on the AustLII website, under the Victorian Historical Acts database.
Victorian Subordinate legislation
Under section 3(1) of the Subordinate Legislation Act 1984 (Vic), the term “statutory rule” can also mean regulation. Subordinate legislation is also known as delegated legislation. In Victoria, when a section in an Act states that subordinate legislation can be made under the Act, this can take the form of Rules or Regulations. For example, section 194 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic) is the authorising provision for rules or regulations to be made by the Governor in Council under that Act. The Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2018 (Vic) are an example of subordinate legislation made under section 194 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic).
Locating subordinate legislation on the Victorian Legislation website is similar to locating Acts.
Finding Victorian subordinate legislation – As passed
To find versions of Rules or Regulations as they are passed, search for the Rule or Regulation title or year and number, in the Legislation as Made – Statutory Rules as made section of the Victorian Legislation website.
Finding Victorian subordinate legislation – In force
Victorian subordinate legislation can also be consolidated. To locate a consolidated Rule or Regulation, search for the title or year and number in the Legislation in Force – Statutory Rules in force section of the Victorian Legislation website. Using a title search, navigate to the core document page of the Rule or Regulation. A PDF version of the current rule or regulation will be available. There will also be a table of previous versions for “point in time” research purposes.
The Victorian Government produces Regulatory Impact Statements to accompany any new and sunsetting subordinate legislation. From 2011 onwards, these can be found on the Victorian Regulatory Impact Statements section of the Better Regulation Victoria website.
A note about sunset clauses for Victorian subordinate legislation
Under section 5(1) of the Subordinate Legislation Act 1984 (Vic), subordinate legislation automatically expires on the day which is the tenth anniversary of the making of the statutory rule. This is commonly known as a “sunset provision” meaning that the rule will expire at the end of the day.
Finding historical Victorian subordinate legislation on AustLII
Some historical versions of Victorian subordinate legislation are available on the AustLII website.
• Victorian Numbered Regulations 2004-
• Victorian Reprinted Regulations 1997-
• Victorian Repealed Regulations
Historical Victorian subordinated legislation is also available in hard copy print format in some libraries, and some are published in Victorian Government Gazettes.
Finding repealed or revoked Victorian legislation
Other Victorian legislative information
On the Victorian Legislation website there is other useful information linked under the Legislative Information menu, including:
• Legislative information reports: This section contains tables and information about commencement or repeal of Victorian Legislation. This includes tables of subordinate legislation made under authorising Acts and subordinate legislation which is set to expire.
• Penalty units: Instead of listing a monetary fine in an Act, there may be a section setting a specific fine amount in the form of a penalty unit (eg: 50 penalty units). On the Penalty and Fee unit website, the amount of a penalty unit increases on 1 July every year.
• General Orders: To locate which government department is responsible for administering specific Acts, check the General Orders website.
• Victorian Government Gazettes: Some Acts will come into force by dates set in section 2 of the Act, and other sections of the Act may come into force on a day to be proclaimed. Notices will be placed in Victorian Government Gazettes for those commencement proclamations.