Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly

The Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory (known in short as the ACT Legislative Assembly) is the unicameral legislature of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). It sits in the Legislative Assembly Building on Civic Square, close to the centre of the city of Canberra.

Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory
Coat of arms or logo
Logo
Type
Type
History
Founded1989
Leadership
Joy Burch, Labor
since 2016
Andrew Barr, Labor
since 2014
Structure
Seats25
ACT Legislative Assembly Composition as of November 2020.svg
Legislative Assembly political groups
Government (16)
  Labor (10)
  Greens (6)

Opposition (9)
  Liberal (9)
Elections
Legislative Assembly last election
17 October 2020
Legislative Assembly next election
24 October 2024
Meeting place
Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly.jpg
Legislative Assembly Building, Canberra
35°16′54″S 149°07′52″E / 35.2816°S 149.1312°E / -35.2816; 149.1312Coordinates: 35°16′54″S 149°07′52″E / 35.2816°S 149.1312°E / -35.2816; 149.1312
Website
www.parliament.act.gov.au
Chamber of the ACT Legislative Assembly

CreationEdit

The Assembly was created by four acts of the Commonwealth Parliament in 1988, including the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988. The first election was held on 4 March 1989[1] and the assembly first sat on 11 May that year.[2] Until this point, the ACT had been directly administered by the Commonwealth Government. It replaced the House of Assembly (also known for a period as the Legislative Assembly), which existed from 1976 to 1986, but had no executive power, with a principal function of advising the Commonwealth on matters relating to the Territory.[2]

MembershipEdit

Since October 2016, the Legislative Assembly has 25 members elected from five electorates,[3] Brindabella, Ginninderra, Kurrajong, Murrumbidgee and Yerrabi, each having five members.[4] Members are elected for four-year terms by the Hare-Clark system, a variation of the Single Transferable Vote form of proportional representation.[5]

Previously the Legislative Assembly had 17 members elected from three electorates—Brindabella and Ginninderra, each of which had five members, and Molonglo, which had seven members. In 2014 the Assembly voted to expand the number of members, with the change taking effect at the 2016 election.[6]

The Assembly was originally elected by a modified d'Hondt system, but a 1992 referendum supported the Hare-Clark method, and this was introduced in the 1995 election.[5]

Members of the Legislative Assembly vote to elect a Chief Minister[7]—in practice, the leader of whichever party can form government (known as the ACT Government). The Chief Minister, in turn, selects ministers to form a cabinet. The leader of the second-largest party in the Assembly usually becomes the Leader of the Opposition.

Election dates for the Assembly are fixed in legislation, with elections held on the third Saturday in October every four years (until 1997, elections were held in February).[8] The term of the Assembly was increased in 2004 from three to four years. The next election is due on Saturday 24 October 2024.

SalaryEdit

As of 2018 MLAs were paid a base salary of $164,382. Most members were entitled to an additional loading, up to a maximum of $345,202 for the chief minister.[9]

Local government functionsEdit

Unlike the legislatures of the other mainland states and territories, the Assembly also has the functions of a local council; the city of Canberra has no other local government.

Enactment of legislationEdit

The ACT is unique among Australian states and self-governing territories, as it has no vice-regal post exercising authority as the representative of the monarch, such as a governor or an Administrator. The functions vested in a state Governor or territorial Administrator as nominal head of the Executive—commissioning government, proroguing parliament and enacting legislation—are exercised by the Assembly itself and by the Chief Minister. Instead of vice-regal or regal assent, a Bill passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly is enacted on "notification"—publication in the Government Gazette of a notice authorised by the Chief Minister.[10] However, the Governor-General of Australia does have the power to dissolve the Assembly if it is "incapable of effectively performing its functions or is conducting its affairs in a grossly improper manner".[11]

PowersEdit

As with the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, the ACT Legislative Assembly lacks the full powers of a state legislature. Section 122 of the Constitution of Australia provides that the Commonwealth Parliament "may make laws for the government of any territory" surrendered by any State to the Commonwealth. The Governor-General, on the advice of the Executive, previously had the power to override laws passed by the Assembly.[12] Although this was rare in practice, the Civil Unions Act 2006, which allowed same-sex couples to enter into "civil unions" was overruled following concerns that the civil unions mimicked marriage. In July 2006, the Federal Government again threatened to overrule the ACT Stanhope Government's anti-terror legislation, which was not consistent with other state laws. In 2011 the Federal Parliament passed a private senator's bill which removed this power in respect to both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. [13]

Current distribution of seatsEdit

 
Electorates used for the 2020 election.
Party Seats held Percentage Seat distribution
Labor Party 10 40%                    
Liberal Party 9 36%                    
ACT Greens 6 24%                    

2020 Australian Capital Territory general election

Electorate Seats held
Brindabella          
Ginninderra          
Kurrajong          
Murrumbidgee          
Yerrabi          
  Labor
  Liberal
  Green

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ ACT government elections Archived 28 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "Establishing self-government in the ACT". Legislative Assembly for the ACT. 20 March 2017. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  3. ^ "A Bill for An Act to amend the Electoral Act 1992" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Electorates 2016 election". 27 April 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Electing Members of the ACT Legislative Assembly". Legislative Assembly for the ACT.
  6. ^ Australian Capital Territory (Legislative Assembly) Act 2014 (ACT)
  7. ^ Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 (Cth) s 40
  8. ^ Electoral Act 1992 (ACT) s 100
  9. ^ Foden, Blake (4 April 2018). "ACT politicians awarded 2.5 per cent pay rise". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  10. ^ "National Archives: Documenting a Democracy". Archived from the original on 21 February 2006. Retrieved 8 June 2009.
  11. ^ Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 (Cth) s 16
  12. ^ Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 (Cth) s 35
  13. ^ Territories Self-Government Legislation Amendment (Disallowance and Amendment of Laws) Act 2011 (Cth)

External linksEdit