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Legal Research Skills Guide: Extrinsic materials

Extrinsic material

Extrinsic material is material that is not included in the legislation itself, but can help to clarify the meaning intended by Parliament. Examples include explanatory memoranda, parliamentary speeches or law reform commission reports that informed the legislative change. Courts may use extrinsic material to interpret statutes when their meaning is ambiguous or unclear.

Extrinsic material falls into the following categories:

  • Explanatory Notes/Memoranda
  • Second Reading Speeches

Explanatory memoranda

An explanatory memorandum accompanies each Bill introduced to Parliament and explains the purpose of the Bill. Extrinsic memorandum are called explanatory notes in some jurisdictions and are located with the associated Bill.

Second reading speeches

When a bill is introduced to Parliament it needs to go through several stages before becoming an Act. One of the stages is the second reading.

In the second reading, the member who introduced the bill will give a speech outlining the policy behind the proposed legislation and its purpose and will help provide you with some understanding of why the Bill was introduced.

You'll find 2nd readings speeches on Parliamentary website, in Parliamentary Hansard and in Timebase LawOne.

Activity #23 - Finding Explanatory Memoranda

 Go to the Commonwealth Legislation website.  Navigate to the Bill Landholders’ Right to Refuse (Coal Seam Gas) Bill 2011 and locate the Explanatory memorandum for this Bill.