Library & Research Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I find the text of a new Federal Taxation Bill and how do I know how it is progressing through parliament?
It always helps to have the correct title. For example, if you were after the Goods and Services Tax Act or the Taxation of Financial Arrangements Act, neither of these are under G or T. The correct names are A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (Cth) and the New Business Tax System (Taxation of Financial Arrangements) Act (No. 1) Act 2003 (Cth). A good place to start is the Bills page on the Australian Parliament House website. Here you can get the text of Current bills and old bills. If you wish to find out the progress of legislation going through Parliament, after you have clicked on Bills, go to House Daily Bills List.
In addition, both electronic ATP and CCH Tax Library also have the full text of current bills of Parliament. Electronically, these are available via the UNSW Library's Law & Business Subject Guides.
2. How do I find extrinsic materials to interpret an Act of Parliament?
Extrinsic materials include: explanatory memorandum (EM), ministerial second reading speeches, government reports, law reform commission reports, parliamentary reports, parliamentary debates, treaties etc as per the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth) s 15AB.
Both ATP and CCH Tax Library reproduce the taxation laws of Australia 1936-1990 with their tax bills, the explanatory memorandum and second reading speeches.
The Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speeches may also be found at the Australian Parliament House website by clicking on Bills then Current Bills or Old Bills. The Australian Taxation Office website also has the EMs and ministerial second reading speeches back to the 1930s. Look for the 'Index of Historical Documents' link.
Over the years, there have been numerous government reports related to taxation such as Kerr (1920), Ferguson (1932), Spooner (1950), Ligertwood (1961), Asprey (1975), Ralph (1999). Only the Asprey and Ralph Report appear to be available electronically. These can be found the Review of Business Taxation website.
Materials published by the Board of Taxation can be classed as extrinsic materials.
3. Where can I find books and journal articles on a particular topic?
Please note: A comprehensive list of tax-related databases are available via the UNSW Library’s law and taxation subject guides.
For guides to using the UNSW Library catalogue and databases effectively, please see the UNSW online Study Skills Tutorials ELISE and ELISE Plus.
4. How do I find journal articles on a particular topic?
This will depend on whether what you are after is local or overseas.
For local materials:
Three of the best journal indexes for tax and legal research include:
- AGIS i.e. Attorney-General's Information Services. Indexes journals received by the Attorney-General's Department Library, Canberra. Includes primarily Australian and some overseas law journals
- APAIS i.e. Australian Public Affairs Information Service. Indexes journals received by the National Library of Australia, Canberra. Includes Australian general journals, specific subject journals and some law journals
- TAXABS i.e. Australian Taxation Abstracts. Indexes journals received by the Australian Taxation Office
There are full text options for AGIS and APAIS called AGIS Plus Text and APAIS Full Text. However please note, not all articles indexed in the latter are full text. If it is in full text, a note next to the article will say FT with a hypertext link.
All of the above databases are available via UNSW Library's Sirius gateway once you are in the UNSW Library website.
For overseas materials:
These also include references to Australian materials:
- ABI Inform (also known as ProQuest), focuses mainly on US content
- EconLit published by the American Economic Association, provides bibliographic coverage of a wide range of economics-related literature. An expanded version of the Journal of Economic Literature (JEL) indexes of journals, books, and dissertations, EconLit covers both economic theory and application
- Expanded Academic ASAP provides a combination of indexing, abstracts, images, and full text for scholarly and general interest journals embracing all academic disciplines.
- Index to Legal Periodicals and Books is US in origin. The print version originated in the late 19th century and the electronic version commenced in 1981. From 2004, there is an electronic version, which enables users to go back to the beginning of the 20th century
- Legal Journal Index, which is part of Current Legal Information. Primarily concentrates on UK law journals and indexes mainly UK and European articles
- LegalTrac commenced in 1981 as Current Law Index in hard copy and indexes more journals than Index to Legal Periodicals and Books
All of the above databases are available via UNSW Library's Sirius gateway.
5. Where do I find abbreviations?
Electronically you can browse the University of New South Wales Law Library Law Reports and Abbreviations Database. Australian legal abbreviations can be found via the UNSW Library's Law subject guide under 'How do I?/Find Legal Citations'.
6. Which tools will assist me in finding cases which judicially consider an Act of Parliament?
Fortunately in tax, there are two electronic services produced by Australian Tax Practice and CCH Tax Library which annotate the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth) and the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 and other tax and related legislation. Other useful tools include:
- Federal statutes annotations as published by LexisNexis which annotate all federal legislation. The easiest way to find this resource is to search for 'Federal statutes annotations' in the UNSW Library Catalogue
- On AustLII, once you have found a section of an act of parliament, you can click on Noteup and this will sometimes take you to where this section has been judicially considered by a court. There may be relevant journal articles noted, references in High Court of Australia transcripts etc. It doesn't always yield perfect results
- Lexis Nexis' CaseBase is available through the UNSW Library's Sirius gateway. Once in CaseBase, under 'Legislation', key in the act name, e.g. Income Tax Assessment Act 1936
7. How do I find out if a party to a case has been granted special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia?
Visit the High Court Bulletin website where they note up Special Leave Applications. This is issued only monthly so in between go to the High Court of Australia Registry Special Leave Applications Results.
8. How do I find a copy of Justice Graham Hill “Scheme New Zealand or An Example of The Operation of Div 165” (2003) 1 (2) eJournal of Tax Research 147-59?
Visit the eJournal of Tax Research section.
9. What is the difference between a Bill and an Act?
A Bill is the original document on which the Act of Parliament is based. Sometimes the wording in the bill will be exactly the same as the act. Often the bill will be heavily amended during the parliamentary session or subsequent ones. Some bills never get passed. The act would have passed both houses of parliament and be assented to by either the Governor (state) or Governor-General (federal).
10. What is the explanatory memorandum? Why is it important? Where are they found in the Library?
The explanatory memorandum is the section by section analysis of federal bills of parliament provided to each member of parliament. They are important for interpreting the legislation. They are listed as an extrinsic source under the Acts Interpretation Act 1900 (1900). They can be usually found in a Law Library filed or bound together with federal bills of parliament. Electronically, they can be found since 1996 at the Australian Parliament House website.
11. What is the second reading speech? Why is it important and how do I find a copy?
They are important for interpreting the legislation. They are listed as an extrinsic source under the Acts Interpretation Act 1900 (1900). They can be usually found in a Law Library as part of the parliamentary debates for the relevant jurisdiction. Electronically, they can be found since 1996 at the Australian Parliament House website either under Current Bills or under Old Bills.
12. What is Royal Assent? Why is it important?
Royal assent is the date an Act of Parliament is signed by either the Governor-General or the Governor. Prior to the assent date, the Bill of Parliament is not part of the law. The assent date is an important date as some Acts commence on the date of assent. Some Acts if not specified in the Act itself, commence 28 days after the date of assent.
13. How do I work out when an Act of Parliament commences?
An Act of Parliament may commence in one of the following ways:
- Date of assent by the Governor or Governor-General
- Date mentioned in the act of parliament
- Date to be proclaimed by the Governor or Governor-General
- 28 days after the date of assent unless the contrary intention appears in the Act as provided by the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth) s 5
- Retrospectively e.g. Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) was assented to on 18 June 2002 but commenced on 20 March 2002
- Contingent on some other event occurring e.g. an act may commence on a date contingent on say 50 nations signing a particular treaty
If you go to ComLaw, once you have found the contents of the act, scroll down to the Notes field at the end of the contents, and this will yield commencement information.
14. How do I find out if a Section of an Act is in force?
An Act and or a Section is in force when the Act commencement is gazetted in the Government Gazette. Fortunately, students do not often have to peruse the Government Gazettes as the same information is often reproduced in many places such as:
- Acts Tables which are published on a monthly basis for most Australian jurisdictions
- Australian Current Law Legislation by typing this title into the UNSW Library catalogue
- Australian Legal Monthly Digest can be found via the UNSW Library catalogue
- ComLaw for federal legislation has 'Notes' at the end of each Act of Parliament, noting commencement dates of the Act and the various sections. Likewise the New South Wales Parliamentary Counsel website has similar information under Historical notes, for each Act of Parliament
15. What is a reprint?
Reprint usually refers to a reprinted Act of Parliament containing the original Act together with amendments. This term is being superseded by electronic publishing, where Acts of Parliament are continuously updated.
16. How do I find the date of the latest reprint?
The date of the latest reprint can be found a number of ways:
- The monthly table of Acts of Parliament for the relevant jurisdiction
- Australian Current Law – Legislation on LexisNexis via the UNSW Library's journal gateway Sirius
- Australian Legal Monthly Digest via the UNSW Library catalogue
17. Where can I find the full text of a piece of legislation?
18. How do I find cases on a Section of an Act?
Good sources include:
- CaseBase via the UNSW Library's Law Subject Guide, under How do I? /Find cases
- FirstPoint can also be accessed via the UNSW Library’s Law subject guide under 'How do I?... /Find cases'
- Federal Statutes Annotations on LexisNexis via the UNSW Library Catalogue
- Commonwealth Statutes Annotations (Lawbook Co) is available in print. Please ask the Freehills Law Library staff for assistance
- Australian Legal Monthly Digest and Australian Current Law – Reporter on LexisNexis via the UNSW Library catalogue
19. How do I find legislation where I only know the subject?
Wicks Subject Index to Commonwealth Legislation is available only in print. Wicks also has an index to New South Wales legislation, and there are others compiled by others for Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Please ask the Freehills Law Library staff for assistance.
Another good source is a legal encyclopedia such as Halsbury's Laws of Australia on LexisNexis and The Laws of Australia database in Thomson Reuters - Legal Online. You can find these using the Law subject guide, on the 'How Do I?... /Find Legal Commentary' page.
20. Why is it when I click on a link in CaseBase, it doesn’t work?
The University of New South Wales Library does subscribe to a number of law reports via Butterworths Online, so when these appear in CaseBase, you can get the full text. Unfortunately, the links to the full text of Butterworths/Lexis/Nexis journals does not work via CaseBase. You can get the full text of these journals by exiting CaseBase then going to Lexis then clicking on Legal excluding the US then find Australia then law reviews, then click on journals.
21. I am trying to get Esquire Nominees Ltd v Federal Commissioner of Taxation (1975) 4 ATR 75 also reported in (1973) 129 CLR 177 from AustLII, as I thought AustLII held all High Court decisions back to 1901. I checked 1975 and 1973 High Court cases but could not find it.
There was a decision by Gibbs J on this matter in 1972 and as this is published with the 1973 decision of the High Court in (1973) 129 CLR 177 both of these are published on AustLII under 1972 decisions not 1973.
22. How do I correctly cite media releases?
Here are a couple of examples:
- Australia. Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer. Senator the Hon Helen Coonan, Consolidation - corporate unit trusts and public trading trusts, Media Release, CO19/03, 27 March 2003
- Australia. Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer. Senator the Hon Helen Coonan, Consolidation - corporate unit trusts and public trading trusts, Media Release, CO19/03, 27 March 2003 http://assistant.treasurer.gov.au/atr/content/pressreleases/2003/019.asp
This format ensures that the press release can be found under the relevant portfolio, rather than the Minister’s name. In this case it is under Coonan's previous portfolio, not under her name, as she is now Minister for Communications.
23. How do I find out whether the University of New South Wales Library holds a particular item?
Go to the UNSW Library website catalogue. For guides to using the catalogue, please see the UNSW online Study Skills Tutorials ELISE and ELISE Plus.
24. How can I use the library at my local university?
Approach your local library with your student card and photo ID and request borrowing privileges. See the UNSW Library pages: About your Library and Services for for details. Reading material in another university library is usually permitted, although some university libraries limit entry by non library patrons.
University Library Australia (ULA) is a national borrowing scheme that allows all cu rrent staff and students of the Australian Vice Chancellors' committee (AVCC) member universities to borrow from any other member university in Australia.