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Historical Legislation

After an Act is passed by parliament, it may be changed multiple times. When researching, you may need to find out what a piece of legislation said at a particular date, how a provision of legislation has changed over time, or find the Acts that made the amendments.

An Act that has been edited to reflect subsequent amendments may be known as a reprint, compilation or consolidation. The Act will state, often on its title page or preliminary section, which version it is by number and/or date. For example,

Commonwealth Queensland

These numbering conventions have changed over time, particularly as legislation moved from publication in print to online. Queensland legislation is no longer given a reprint number, only a reprint date.

Note that some provisions of an amending Act may have been enacted but not commenced. For example, parliament may enact a Bill that makes two amendments: one that is effective as soon as the Act receives Royal Assent, and one which does not come into effect until the first day of the next financial year. Thus a reprint may not include uncommenced provisions.

Point-In-Time legislation

There are a variety of ways to locate a version of an Act as it was at a specific time in the past.

Legislation databases and website features

Some government legislation websites and subscription databases allow you to search for a reprint by date.

Queensland Legislation

Navigate to the in-force version of the Act, and on the right-hand side of the page, click the Timeline button. You can now search by date, or navigate through the chronological list of reprints.

LawOne (via TimeBase)

The LawOne database is a powerful legislation research tool that collates legislative material and extrinsic material across Australian jurisdictions.

Browse by reprint date

Most legislation websites will provide a table of reprints for each piece of legislation, along with the dates on which the reprint was assented to and published. From the dates provided, you can identify which reprint was in effect on the date you are researching.

Queensland Legislation

Navigate to the Act in force, and click 'Legislation History' in the upper centre of the screen, then 'Table of Reprints'.

Commonwealth Legislation

Navigate to the Act in force, and click 'View Series' under the Act title on the left. The list of compilations, along with dates and compilation number, are displayed on the right.

Changes to a provision

There are a few methods for determining how a specific provision has changed over time: by checking the Endnotes of an Act, or in-website annotations.

Endnotes: Table of Annotations or Amendments

Traditionally, each reprint of an Act will include a table of all amendments (also known as annotations) listed by section number, in the endnotes to the Act. The endnote should also provide key to the abbreviations used in the table. NB from 8 February 2018, Queensland legislation is no longer published with endnotes.

eg Copyright Act 1964 (Cth) Endnotes:

eg Childrens Court Act 1992 (Qld) Endnotes:

 

Website-based historical notes

Some jurisdictions' legislation websites provide features that annotate each section with historical notes.

Queensland

From the webpage of a piece of in-force legislation, click on 'Turn history notes on'. Now, notes detailing any amendments will appear at the end of each section.

Amending Acts

A full list of all Acts which have amended the principal Act can be found by:

Commonwealth

A chronological list of Acts amending the principal Act can be found in the Endnotes under 'Legislation History', or from the Federal Register of Legislation, by navigating to the Act in force, then clicking 'View series' > Principal + Amendments

Queensland

For reprints published before 8 February 2018, a list of amending legislation can be found in the Endnotes to the Act. For legislation published on or after 8 February 2018, visit the Queensland Legislation website, navigate to the Act in force, and click Legislative history > Table of reprints > Amendments included.