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Government Publications and Law Reform

Government Publications

Government publications comprise non legislative materials (therefore, not Acts, Regulations or other Legislative Instruments) issued by parliaments (including parliamentary committees), the executive, government ministers and departments. These publications are an important source of information as they give the background and detail on many government policies. Government reports and recommendations for law reform frequently too, provide the basis for new legislation and thus are important in legal research.

For example, recommendations from the Review of the Law of Negligence (the Ipp Report) have been enacted into law through amendments to torts legislation (in South Australia, the Law Reform (Ipp Recommendations) Act 2004 (SA) amended the Civil Liability Act 1936 (SA). - access to publications of the Australian Government.

Parliamentary Materials

Parliamentary Committee reports and the reports of government inquiries are today published on the internet, but historically are print based. Many of these reports are republished within a series known as ' Parliamentary Papers'.

Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers – held in Barr Smith Library.
South Australian Parliamentary Papers – Law Library, shelved in Computer Suite.

For further information on this type of information, see GovPubs: The Australian Government Publications Guide

"A guide to selected types of Australian government publications, such as Acts, Hansards, Gazettes and Parliamentary Papers, located in Australia's National, State and Territory libraries or available on the Internet. A historical description of each publication is provided, and holdings information will enable you to locate resources in each library or online."

Australian Parliament
This website hosts reports and submissions to parliamentary committees of inquiry. See, for example, Current Inquiries and Recent Reports by Subject Matter.

South Australian Parliament
This website also provides links to submissions and reports to SA Parliamentary Committees.

Parliamentary research or briefing papers are written by advisors within the Parliamentary staff, and they offer a good summary of the facts and issues with extensive referencing.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Research Service provides Research Papers and Background Notes on a host of issues relevant to the Federal government.

Royal Commissions

Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry are the most important form of public inquiry in Australia. Most reports of these inquiries are available as a Parliamentary paper and reports from recent years are also available on the internet.

Commonwealth Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry 1902-2006

"This list includes all Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry (the nomenclature varies) appointed by the Australian Government from 1902, under the provisions of the Royal Commissions Act 1902. It does not include Royal Commissions appointed by Australian state or territory governments, unless the Australian Government was also involved."

Law Reform

Law reform bodies are created to review, develop and reform the law. Reports of these bodies offer an extremely comprehensive analysis of an area of law, usually with some analysis of the law in comparative jurisdictions. At present, all the States and Territories of Australia have a law reform body except South Australia, where the law reform committee ceased operating in the late 1980s.

All past reports of the SA Law Reform Committee are available in the Law Library at KL177 S726.

Law Reform Bodies

Indexes and Law Reform Databases

  • Australasian Law Reform Library
    AustLII provides an Australasian law reform library where law reform reports and other publications of all permanent Australian and New Zealand law reform bodies may be accessed.
  • Law Reform Database
    This is an index database of over 7,000 law reform publications from common law countries around the world (including Australia).

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