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Last Updated: Jun 24, 2020     Views: 2767

Explanatory Memoranda and Second Reading Speeches are used to assist lawyers and court to interpret a particular piece of legislation when the meaning is ambigous or unclear.

The Explanatory Memorandum is provided to Members of Parliament before they debate the merits of an Act. They provide a clause by clause description of the purpose of the Act.

The Second Reading Speech is usually delivered by the Minister or Member presenting the Bill, and provides background to the legislation (including mention of law reform and other reports), as well as the anticipated outcomes from the legislation. These are reported verbatim in the Hansard for each House of Parliament.


  • Go to ComLaw and click on 'Bills' tab.
  • Locate the Bill and click on its title.
  • Click the 'Explanatory Memoranda' tab.

You can also access Bills Digests on the Australian Parliament website.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, bills are released with a brief Explanatory Note, rather than an Explanatory Memorandum.

  • Go to NSW Bills for a list of Bills since 1999.
  • Search for a Bill by subject or title.

There is also a search option for 'Explanatory Notes prior to 1999'.

Western Australia

  • Go to the 'Bills' page on the WA Parliament website for a list of all Bills since 1997.
  • Search for a Bill by title or subject.
  • The Progress section of the Bill's page will include links to the Explanatory Memoranda and Second Reading Speech.

For Bills produced prior to 1997, search for Second Reading Speeches in printed Parliamentary Debates (check in the Index to Subjects under the name of the Bill for the page number(s) of Second Reading Speeches).