AustLII (the Australasian Legal Information Institute) has just released a new facility called the Point-in-time Legislation Project. It allows users instantly to view legislation at any given historical date. You simply select the desired date in relation to any law and it is displayed incorporating all amendments as at that time but excluding subsequent ones.
Some analogous services exist, but they’re subscription-based and therefore inaccessible to most people. There are lots of reasons why non-legal professionals may need this sort of ready access to the law as at a historical date. One can imagine that there would be numerous situations where a historian or political scientist would need it, and the increasing proliferation of self-represented litigants in our court system can ony be assisted by access to research tools that allow them to present their case more effectively and so have a better chance of getting justice against wealthy and lawyered-up opponents.
Accessibiity of the law to all citizens is an important aspect of any democracy, and AustLII’s efforts are certainly enhancing Australian democracy in that respect. At present the Point-in-time Legislation Project only offers complete coverage of NSW legislation, with partial coverage of South Australia and Queensland, but they intend progressively extending it to all Australian jurisdictions.