australia.gov.au

 
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State and territory government

State government

There are six states in Australia: New South Wales (NSW), Queensland (Qld), South Australia (SA), Tasmania (Tas.), Victoria (Vic.) and Western Australia (WA).

Each state has its own state Constitution, which divides the state's government into the same divisions of legislature, executive, and judiciary as the Australian Government.

The six state parliaments are permitted to pass laws related to any matter that is not controlled by the Commonwealth under Section 51 of the Australian Constitution.

The monarch's powers over state matters are exercised by a Governor in each state. The head of each state government is known as the Premier.

Territory government

There are ten Australian territories outside the borders of the states. Two mainland territories, The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and The Northern Territory (NT) and one offshore territory, Norfolk Island, have been granted a limited right of self-government by the Australian Government. In these territories, a range of governmental matters are now handled by a locally-elected parliament.

Outside of government, the ACT and the NT are often treated like states because of their significant population sizes.

Seven territories are governed only by Commonwealth law, usually through an Australian Government-appointed Administrator. They are:

  • Ashmore and Cartier Islands
  • Australian Antarctic Territory
  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • Coral Sea Islands
  • Jervis Bay Territory
  • Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands

Capital cities

Canberra, located in the Australian Capital Territory, is Australia's national capital. The Parliament of Australia is located in Canberra, as is most of the Australian Government public service.

The other state and territory capital cities are:

  • Adelaide (South Australia)
  • Brisbane (Queensland)
  • Darwin (the Northern Territory)
  • Hobart (Tasmania)
  • Melbourne (Victoria)
  • Perth (Western Australia)
  • Sydney (New South Wales)

Conflict of laws

If the laws of a state ever conflict with the laws of the Australian Government, the Constitution says that Commonwealth law is to be followed.

The Australian Government judiciary may also have the power to review decisions by a state judiciary.

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