The key legislative instrument defining the broad function and activities of the Museum is the National Museum of Australia Act 1980. This Act established the Museum as a Commonwealth statutory authority and, along with the National Museum of Australia Regulations 2000, defines its role, functions and powers.
The Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 provides a single set of core reporting, auditing and accountability requirements for directors of Commonwealth authorities. It also deals with other matters such as banking and investment and the conduct of officers, and states that directors are responsible for the preparation and content of the report of operations in accordance with the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies (Report of Operations) Orders 2008.
The Public Service Act 1999 covers the powers of the Director of the National Museum of Australia in relation to the management of human resources.