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Legislation: Parliamentary websites

This guide contains resources and guidance to help students to find and interpret Legislation.

Parliamentary Debates (Hansard)


To find second reading speeches for legislation that was enacted before 1995, and to look up parliamentary debates generally, you will normally need to consult Hansard, which is the official record of parliamentary debates and contains a verbatim report of all proceedings in Parliament. 

Each jurisdiction has its own Hansard website, and most of these have digitised their debates back to at least 1901. 

Example Questions:

  • Where can we find the second reading speech for the Family Law Bill associated with the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)?

  • What date was it made and who made the speech?

Bills Digests (Commonwealth)


Bills Digests are produced by the Australian Parliamentary Library. They are considered excellent research tools as they provide detailed information about the context, purpose and structure of Commonwealth Bills. They are written to assist members and senators of the federal parliament in their consideration of Bills (in preparation for debate or voting) and contain independent perspectives. 

Since 1979, Bills digests have been produced for most Commonwealth government Bills. For private members’ Bills, a digest is only produced for Bills that are likely to be debated in the parliament, or which are particularly controversial or significant. 

Legislation Review Digests (NSW)


Legislation Review Digests are produced by The NSW Legislation Review Committee - which scrutinises each Bill and Regulation to be introduced into the NSW Parliament. The digests provide general background information on the Bill or Regulation and report on their impact on personal rights and liberties.