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Levels of Government in Australia

Levels of Government in Australia

Almost everywhere you live in Australia you will have three elected governments – Federal, State (or Territory) and Local. Each of these levels of government has its own powers, responsibilities and services and each of them is elected by the people they provide government for.

The three levels of government developed in Australia at different times. By 1900, there were six self governing Australian colonies (the two territories - the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory - gained self-government later). Local governments began to be established in the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1901 the six states joined together to form the new nation of Australia with a new Federal or Commonwealth Government which added a third level of government.

Each level of government is different. Often they are fully responsible for certain services or regulations, but in many cases two or three levels of government share some responsibility for a similar area, e.g. education or health. The National or Federal Government collects most taxes. It directly provides many services such as defence and pensions, and has an important role in providing funding for many other areas. State governments also raise revenue but depend very much on Federal funding to carry out their programs. Local governments raise much of their funds through rates but also depend on State and some Federal funding. Each government understands its own powers and responsibilities, and ways have been worked out for the three levels to work together. Local governments are closely linked to the State Government through its Local Government Department. State and Federal Governments work together through many systems but the most publicised ones are the Conferences which take place between the Premiers and the Prime Minister.

    What Level?
    How Many in Australia?
        Leader & Executive Body
    Prime Minister
    Federal Parliament:
    House of Representatives with 150 Members representing separate electorates (including 48 in NSW) plus
    Senate with 76 Members, 12 from each State,
    2 from each of the two territories.
Canberra, ACT
    (6 States,
2 Territories)
    Premier (or Chief Minister in Territories). For NSW: Parliament of NSW:
    Legislative Assembly with 93 Members representing 93 electorates plus
    Legislative Council with 42 Members representing whole State.
Macquarie Street, Sydney
(City, Municipality, Shire)
More than 560 in Australia
    152 in NSW
    Mayor (or Lord Mayor), City, Municipal or Shire Council: Councils have from 5 to
    15 Councillors. Each usually represents one section (Ward or Riding) within the
    local government area.
An important local centre