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Parliaments of the Australian states and territories

The parliaments of the Australian states and territories are legislative bodies within the federal framework of the Commonwealth of Australia.

All the parliaments are based on the Westminster system, and each is regulated by its own constitution. Queensland and the two territories have unicameral parliaments, with the single house being called Legislative Assembly. The other states have a bicameral parliament, with a lower house called the Legislative Assembly (New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia) or House of Assembly (South Australia and Tasmania). In all these cases the upper house is called the Legislative Council.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Before the formation of the Commonwealth in 1901, the six Australian colonies were self-governing colonies, with parliaments which had come into existence at various times between 1825, when the New South Wales Legislative Council was created, to 1891, when Western Australia became the last of the colonies to gain full self-government.

The colonies ratified the Constitution of Australia, becoming States of the Commonwealth in the new federation, and ceding certain of their legislative powers to the Commonwealth Parliament, but otherwise retaining their self-governing status with their own constitutions and parliaments. The state parliaments were all created by legislation of the British Imperial Parliament, and their original constitutions were contained in Acts of that Parliament; however now the power to amend state constitutions resides with the respective state parliaments, in accordance with its constitution. The Commonwealth Parliament cannot amend a state's constitution.

The Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, by contrast, are territories of the Commonwealth, and their parliaments were created by way of legislation of the Commonwealth Parliament. Although the Commonwealth treats the territories as though they were states for many purposes, they are not states, and the legislative powers of their parliaments can be altered or even abolished by the Commonwealth Parliament. The Commonwealth can also overturn legislation passed by the territory parliaments.

States and territoriesEdit

New South WalesEdit

The Parliament of New South Wales is a bicameral legislature comprising the New South Wales Legislative Council, the Legislative Assembly and the Queen, represented by the Governor of New South Wales. The Legislative Council has 42 members elected for eight-year terms with half the members facing re-election every four years. They are elected by proportional voting with the whole state being one electorate. The Legislative Assembly has 93 members elected for four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using optional preferential voting.

VictoriaEdit

The Parliament of Victoria is a bicameral legislature comprising the Victorian Legislative Council, the Legislative Assembly and the Queen, represented by the Governor of Victoria. The Legislative Council has 40 members, elected for four-year terms, elected from eight multi-member constituencies, each with five members, using proportional voting. The Legislative Assembly has 88 members elected for fixed four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using preferential voting. Voting is compulsory, and elections take place on the third Saturday of November every four years.

QueenslandEdit

The Parliament of Queensland is a unicameral legislature comprising the Legislative Assembly and the Queen, represented by the Governor of Queensland. The Legislative Assembly has 93 members elected for fixed four-year terms in single-member constituencies using preferential voting.[1] Voting is compulsory.

South AustraliaEdit

The Parliament of South Australia is a bicameral legislature comprising the South Australian Legislative Council, the House of Assembly and the Queen, represented by the Governor of South Australia. The Legislative Council has 22 members, elected for eight-year terms by proportional voting with half the members facing re-election every four years, and the House of Assembly which has 47 members, elected for four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using preferential voting. Voting is compulsory.

Western AustraliaEdit

The Parliament of Western Australia is a bicameral legislature comprising the Western Australian Legislative Council, the Legislative Assembly and the Queen, represented by the Governor of Western Australia. The Legislative Council has 36 members, elected for fixed four-year terms from six multi-member electoral regions by "community of interest" —3 metropolitan and 3 rural—each electing 6 members by proportional voting.[2][3] There is a significant malapportionment in the Legislative Council in favour of rural regions. The Legislative Assembly has 59 members, elected for fixed four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using preferential voting. Voting is compulsory, with elections being held every four years on the second Saturday in March,[4][5] though the term of the Legislative Council does not expire until May after the election.

TasmaniaEdit

The Parliament of Tasmania is a bicameral legislature comprising the Tasmanian Legislative Council, the House of Assembly and the Queen, represented by the Governor of Tasmania. The Legislative Council has 15 members, elected for six-year terms, elected from single-member constituencies on a rotational basis with either two or three being elected each year, using proportional voting. The House of Assembly has 25 members elected for four-year terms from multi-member constituencies, using the Hare-Clark system of proportional representation. Voting is compulsory.

Australian Capital TerritoryEdit

The Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly has 25 members, elected for four-year terms from multi-member constituencies, using the Hare-Clark system of proportional voting.

Northern TerritoryEdit

The Parliament of the Northern Territory is a unicameral legislature comprising the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly and the Administrator. The Legislative Assembly has 25 members, elected for four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using preferential voting. The head of government is called the Chief Minister.

Norfolk IslandEdit

In the external territory of Norfolk Island in the South Pacific Ocean, the local legislative body will be a Norfolk Island Regional Council to be established in 2016. The island was previously governed by a Norfolk Legislative Assembly. Formed after the Norfolk Island Act 1979 was passed in the Australian parliament, its first members were elected on the tenth of August 1979.[6] The assembly consisted of 9 members elected every three years by popular vote. It was abolished in June 2015 as part of a reorganisation of the territory's government by the Parliament of Australia.

Christmas IslandEdit

In the external territory of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, the Shire Council provides local governance. The nine-member Shire Council was established in 1993. Councilors serve four-year terms, with four or five being chosen every second year.[7]

Cocos (Keeling) IslandsEdit

In the external territory of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean, the Shire of Cocos is the local legislative body. Established in 1993, the Shire Council consists of 7 members serving terms of four years. Elections for half the seats are held every two years.

SummaryEdit

State/
Territory
Lower house
established
Name of
lower house
Number of reps
in lower house
Upper house
established
Name of
upper house
Number of reps
in upper house
Total number
of reps
NSW 1856 Legislative Assembly 93 1825 Legislative Council 42 135
Qld 1859 Legislative Assembly 93 1860 unicameral legislature
(Legislative Council abolished 1922)
93
SA 1857 House of Assembly 47 1840 Legislative Council 22 69
Tas 1856 House of Assembly 25 1825 Legislative Council 15 40
Vic 1855 Legislative Assembly 88 1851 Legislative Council 40 128
WA 1890 Legislative Assembly 59 1832 Legislative Council 36 95
ACT 1989 Legislative Assembly 25 unicameral legislature 25
NT 1974 Legislative Assembly 25 unicameral legislature 25
CX 1993 Shire Council 9 unicameral legislature 9
CC 1993 Shire Council 7 unicameral legislature 7
NI 2016 Regional Council 5 unicameral legislature 5

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Electoral Law Ructions in the Queensland Parliament: Antony Green 21 April 2016
  2. ^ Election of the Legislative Council on website of Parliament of Western Australia
  3. ^ Electoral Amendment and Repeal Act 2005 (No.1 of 2005)
  4. ^ "New laws fix state election dates". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  5. ^ Antony Green (8 February 2011). "Future election dates". Blogs.abc.net.au. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Assembly". Norfolk.gov.nf. Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  7. ^ "Welcome to the Shire of Christmas Island." Shire of Christmas Island. Retrieved on 23 February 2009.

External linksEdit