Writing style tip: how to use legal and government terms

Use initial capitals for Government, Federal and Commonwealth when referring to a specific entity. Commonwealth always has an initial capital, but government and federal take lower case for generic uses.

The Australian Government agreed to the new plan.
The government policy remains the same.
Defence is a Commonwealth responsibility.
The Federal Court sentenced the judge.
It is a federal government initiative.

States and territories

Use initial capitals for official titles and lower case for generic or plural references.

The New South Wales Government passed the legislation in December.
The states and territories are responsible for implementing the new procedures.

Acts, Ordinances and legal cases

Full titles of Acts, Ordinances and legal cases always take initial capitals.

First references to an Act or Ordinance should always give the title in full (including the date), and be written in italics.

Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974

Subsequent references to an Act or Ordinance can be in plain text with the date omitted.

Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act

Legal cases are always in italics with initial capitals. The year, if relevant, is placed in brackets in roman type.

Smith v. Brown (1999)

As Australia has Commonwealth and state legislation, sometimes an abbreviation is put in brackets in plain text after the title.

Copyright Act 1968 (Cwlth)

Bills

Bills before Parliament are in roman type, not italics, as they are ‘unpublished’.

Book Bounty Bill 1969

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