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Legislation is the law as it is passed by government. For example, the federal government has passed the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) to govern the operation of family law in Australia. In addition to the Acts passed by parliament are Regulations, which are rules set by government departments and which operate under their respective Acts.

AustLII carries "current consolidations", which are versions of the acts as amended and currently in operation. It is important to check the last date of consolidation, which can be found in most acts by clicking Notes when viewing an act. Some states (and the Commonwealth) also have numbered (or "sessional") acts.

The acts are split into sections. To get to the table of provisions, click Table from any section. This will list all the sections for that act. To print out the whole act, click Download and select a format. See printing, below for more information.

The AustLII legislation databases include hypertext links to most relevant material. These generally include the following:

Using Legislation

Each section is preceeded by a number of "buttons". The meaning of these is as follows:

Dates in Legislation

When searching in Boolean Mode you can use the date operator to limit search results by date (or a date range -- see Search Help, esp Boolean Operators Chart).

In the legislation databases, the for a piece of legislation is the date it was added to the database for numbered acts or regulations. For consolidated acts or regulations, the date is 1 January of the year in the title.

Printing Legislation

To print an individual section, go to the table of provisions for the act, select the section and then use your browsers print button to print the act.

To print the entire act, click Download at the top of the page. You will be asked to select a format. If available, you should always chose "RTF", since this is a widely used word processor format and is easy to work with. Click on "RTF" (or some other format if you prefer). You may be asked where you want to save the file. Chose an appropriate location, then click OK. Some browsers are configured to skip this step, and start your word processor automatically to load the document.

Most RTF files are compressed, and AustLII will send the document in compressed format if your browser supports it. The decompression occurs automatically and the only thing you should notice is that the download is faster. If you experience problems downloading, you should contact feedback.

About the Markup

Acts and regulations are "marked up" on a massively automated basis. We are constantly improving this process to add functionality. If you have suggestions, these are more than welcome. Please bear in mind that the mark up process is essentially heuristic in nature - that is, it is designed to make the occassional mistake. We can't do much about acontextual links which depend on an understanding of natural (or even legal!) language. If you think that you can suggest a general approach to better taking into account the salient features which are inherent to most legislation, please send us feedback.

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