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Victorian Legislation Guide Research Guide

Accessing Legislation Online

Australian legislation is freely available on state and federal government websites. The Victorian government website for legislation is Victorian Legislation. It publishes the authorised and most current version of Victorian legislation and related information, under four sections:

Parliamentary Documents (bills, explanatory memoranda and extrinsic materials)

Victorian Statute Book (legislation passed listed by number or year)

Victorian Law Today (consolidated legislation and statutory rules in force)

Legislative Information (commencement details, updates and supplementary information)

Historical versions of Acts and Statutory Rules are available at the bottom of the individual Act page under ‘Show Version History’. The historic legislation is useful to identify the law as it was at a particular point in time. Legislation was not made available on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website until 1997.

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Accessing Legislation in Hardcopy

Victorian legislation is no longer printed in hardcopy as of December 2018, which is why the online version of legislation on the Victorian Legislation website is the most up to date.

The Law Library has a collection of older Reprints and Consolidated acts in hardcopy. These can be used for identifying a section of an act as it was at a point in time or assisting with historic research.

Victorian Act Reprints 1966-2018

(For versions prior to 1997, the reprints are only available in hardcopy)

These are located on Level 3, Room E, Supreme Court Library.

In 1964 the first 32 hardcopy reprints were printed by the Government Printing Office and available for purchase. Reprints are printed after a number of amendments have been made to an act and they show a point in time for an Act.

Reprints originally had grey covers, and later this changed to green (continuing the same numbering system). The front cover of the green version clearly displays the amendment it includes. On the older grey versions the date of the Reprint is harder to identify; it is printed within the first few pages before the Act begins. Always check the front cover for currency and amendments.

For example, if you need the definition of a particular crime as defined in 1972 from the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), hard copy reprints of this Act from 1969 onwards are available.

Victorian Act Consolidations 1896 – 1958

These are located with the yearly bound Victorian Acts as passed on Level 3 in Room F.

Consolidated Acts consolidate all the statute law in force in Victoria at a particular date. There have been five consolidations of Victorian Statutes:

  • 1864 Four volumes
  • 1890 Seven volumes
  • 1915 Five volumes (in which Imperial Acts were repealed)
  • 1929 Five volumes
  • 1958 Eight volumes – and an Annotation Volume

The process of consolidation made corrections and updates to Acts. This eliminated repetitions, contradictions, redundancies and obsolescence.

In 1959 it was recognised that “the task of preparing a general consolidation has become so burdened with difficulties of compilation, printing and expense that the 1958 consolidation…is probably the last to be undertaken”[i].

The alternative system, already in use for Commonwealth Legislation, was to reprint the Acts with their amendments.

Note:
There are a number of Victorian Acts that have a 1958 date (e.g. the Property Law Act 1958 or the Crimes Act 1958) which was when Statute Law in force in Victoria on 1 September 1958 was last consolidated. This consolidation was introduced through the Acts Enumeration and Revision Act 1958 and the Amendments Incorporation Act 1958 which were passed in Parliament. However, the individual Acts they affected (e.g. the Property Law Act 1958 or the Crimes Act 1958) were not Acts as passed and therefore they do not have Second Reading Speeches or Explanatory Memorandum. A section at the beginning of Volume One explains changes between the old and new version for each Act but it is not an EM.

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[i] (1959) 2(2) Melbourne University Law Review 222

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Bills and Explanatory Memoranda

The Law Library holds Victorian Bills in hard copy from 1864-1976 (incomplete) and from 1982 onwards.

Location: Level 1 – Room 37 (Right side wall)

Explanatory Memoranda started publication from the 50th parliamentary session (1985-1987 onwards). Prior to this date some Bills had ‘Notes on Clauses’ published with them. From Act No. 50/1999, explanatory memoranda are published at the front of the relevant Bill.

Location: Level 1 – Room 37 (Right side wall)

From 1996 onwards Bills, explanatory memoranda, and other related parliamentary documents can be found at the Victorian Legislation website.

Some Victorian Bills and explanatory memoranda can be found in AustLII.

Victorian Bills 1967 -

Explanatory memoranda 1911 -

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Second Reading Speeches

Second Reading Speeches are contained in the Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). The Law Library holds Victorian Hansard in hard copy from 1856/57.

To locate the dates of the Second Reading Speech:

From Act no. 10193 of 1985, the ‘Notes’ section at the back of the Act contains the dates of the Second Reading Speeches. Some Acts are carried over into the next calendar year of the same parliamentary session.

Prior to Act no 10193 of 1985 use the ‘Assent Date’ as a guide. This is usually the same year the Act was passed.

  • Acts that have a date of 1958, 1928/29, 1915, 1890 or 1864/65 may be part of a Consolidation of Victorian Acts. There are no second reading speeches for individual Acts in these consolidations.You will need to check whether the section concerned was carried over from a previous consolidation or inserted into the Act at a later date by an amending Act, and then follow the debates for that amending Act. There are Explanatory Papers that may assist in tracing the history of the Act.

Location: Level 3 – Room E (Bay 21)

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Parliamentary Debates

To locate the parliamentary debates:

Since Volume 366 (Spring session 1982), the Legislative Assembly debates are bound in green volumes and the Legislative Council debates are bound in red volumes. From Volume 1 (1856/57) to Volume 365 (Autumn session 1982) the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council debates are bound together in red volumes. Page numbering can be continuous over a few bound volumes within the one parliamentary session.

Location: Level 1 – Room 37 (back wall)

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