Commonwealth of Australia Gazettes – Fact sheet 22
Why use the Commonwealth Gazette?
Are you trying to establish?
- When a Commonwealth department, body, or commission was established?
- When, and on what subject, Orders in Council were made?
- When someone was appointed to, transferred within, promoted or resigned from the federal public service?
- When proclamations, public notices or circulars were issued about various subjects?
- When a Commonwealth Act and Regulations were assented to?
- When, and to whom, honours and awards were made?
- When tenders were called and contracts accepted by the Commonwealth?
- When tariff decisions were announced?
The Commonwealth of Australia Gazette may be the quickest way of finding out.
What is the Commonwealth Gazette?
The Gazette is a printed publication of the Commonwealth Government. The Gazette is the main publication through which the executive arm of government (as opposed to the legislature, that is the Parliament; and the judiciary, that is the courts) announces its decisions and actions of interest to the public.
Publication of the Commonwealth Gazette began well after the gazettes of the colonies. For example, the New South Wales and Western Australian Government gazettes were first issued in the 1830s. By 1873 when the Northern Territory Government Gazette began publication, all of the colonies and territories were publishing gazettes (the states and Northern Territory continue to do so).
The first Commonwealth Gazette was published on 1 January 1901. The Gazette is published weekly. Each gazette is numbered and each calendar year the numbering begins again at number 1.
Using the Commonwealth Gazette
The weekly instalments for any one calendar year are often bound into one or more volumes. An index is prepared for each year and is usually bound after the last gazette for December. There is no cumulative index to all Commonwealth gazettes.
The annual index is the best place to start. The way in which the indexes are structured and prepared has varied over the years. The first few times you use the gazettes it is worth taking time to look at the relevant index to understand the way it has been laid out and the headings, or indexable terms, it uses.
Australian Government gazettes
In 1974 because the gazette had become a very large and unwieldy publication it was split into four separate publications. After 1974 the indexing of gazettes ceased to be comprehensive. Only notices in the government notices, special and periodic gazettes are indexed. Indexes are issued quarterly. Today there are several Australian Government gazettes, including:
Government Notices Gazette
The Government Notices Gazette is published weekly and contains all legislation, notices of Australian Government departments, court notices and other notices required under Commonwealth law. These Gazettes have a G or GN before their number, eg G17.
Special Notices Gazette
The Special Notices Gazette normally contains a single notice, and be published at any time. These gazettes have an S before their number, eg S8.
Periodic Notices Gazette
The Periodic Notices Gazette is published irregularly and may contain multiple notices relating to a specific subject area. These gazettes have a P before their number, eg P22.
Australian Public Service Gazette
The Australian Public Service Gazette is published weekly and includes notices of examination; and APS employment opportunities, staff movements, promotions and terminations of employment, as well as employment opportunities movements in the Parliamentary Service. Public Service Gazettes have a PS before their number, eg PS42.
The APSjobs website incorporates the electronic APS Employment Gazette. Some sections of the APSjobs website do not form part of the gazette.
Since 1974 the range of gazettes issued has varied and increased – it now includes the Business Gazette; Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Gazette; Tariff Concessions Gazette; Chemical Gazette; Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) Gazette; and Food Standards Gazette.
Where can you find Commonwealth gazettes?
Copies of most Government, Special and Periodic Gazettes published between 1 January 1901 and 31 December 2012 are available on the Federal Register of Legislation under Historical Gazettes.
Fully searchable copies of the Commonwealth Government gazettes, dating from 1901 to 1957, are freely available online and can be accessed on Trove hosted by the National Library of Australia.
A number of Gazettes are published by other Commonwealth departments and agencies. More information on these gazettes is available on the australia.gov.au website at Australian Government gazettes.
The National Library of Australia, as well as state and territory libraries, and some university libraries, should hold hard copies of Commonwealth gazettes.