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Standards and the Law

Australian Standards in legislation and case law

The search for Australian Standards referenced in legislation and case law is conducted on the AustLII website and enables users to access the full text of the legislation and case law and navigate to each instance where the Australian Standard is referenced.

Helpful Tips in Searching for a Standard referenced in legislation:

  • Note that the search will return current and repealed Acts and Regulations in order of the jurisdiction and title of the database
  • Search for the number of the Australian Standard not the title or keywords.  For example, search for AS 3000 not "Wiring Rules"
  • Use the prefix AS not Australian Standard or Australian Standard 3000 as the search
  • Use AS 3000 rather than "AS 3000" unless you want the search to be treated as a phrase
  • If the search returns a PDF document, to find the reference please use "Ctrl F"

The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) is a joint facility of University of Technology Sydney and UNSW Australia Faculties of law and provides free access to Australasian legal materials via the Internet.

AustLII publishes public legal information: that is, primary legal materials (legislation, treaties and decisions of courts and tribunals); and secondary legal materials created by public bodies for purposes of public access (law reform and royal commission reports etc). These materials are listed under AustLII Databases on the AustLII website at

There are Codes that are referenced in legislation, that adopt Australian Standards, which are not included on the AustLII database. These include the National Construction Code of Australia and the Food Standards Code. Please refer to these bodies responsible for these codes for further detail.


Standards and the Law

Standards Australia is not part of government, we do not make laws or regulations.

Australian Standards are not legal documents but many, because of their rigour, are called up into legislation by government and become mandatory.

This is a decision made by elected governments, not Standards Australia.

Standards are also often incorporated into legal contracts.


Standards and Regulation

Standards are voluntary consensus documents that are developed by agreement and their application is by choice unless their use is mandated by government or called up in a contract.

Standards are one tool in a regulatory spectrum that may be applied by governments to provide a solution to a problem.

Depending on the issue, the optimal solution might be 'no action', or a non-regulatory solution like a publicity campaign, or self-regulation by means of a voluntary industry code or standard, or quasi-regulation such as a standard endorsed by government, or co-regulation such as a standard cross-referenced in a general or high-level regulation, or legislation.

Figure 1 illustrates the regulatory spectrum, identifying key 'Choice Criteria'  to guide selection of the appropriate regulatory tool. The basic principle is that risk assessment should be applied to an issue to identify the most appropriate solution. 

The more risk attached to the behaviour or issue, the more government involvement is likely. In principle, progress to the right of the spectrum should be in response to increased risk to justify the increased cost and impact upon society. Standards are not always the most appropriate tool.