- Outline the three levels of government in Australia
- Describe the roles and responsibilities of each level of government
What Are The Three Levels of Government And What Do They Do?
There are three levels of government in Australia:
Each of these levels of government has its own powers, responsibilities and provides services for the people of Australia. Each of them is elected by the people they provide services for.
The Australian Constitution is a document, created at Federation in 1901. It outlines what laws the Federal Parliament in Canberra can make for the whole nation.
The Federal Parliament is made up of two Houses:
- House of Representatives with 150 Members representing separate electorates (including 47 for NSW)
- Senate with 76 members 12 from each state, 2 from each of the two territories
Members of the Australian Parliament who belong to the political party that won the most seats at the last election become the Government, led by the Prime Minister. They are responsible for putting the laws that parliament makes into action. The Federal Government also collects income tax and GST and redistributes this to the states and territories so they can fund their responsibilities.
Federal parliament makes laws about:
- Foreign Affairs
- Imports and Exports
- Post and Telecommunications
- Social Services
- Tertiary Education
State or Territory
Australia has six states. There are also two territories – the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
Any of the areas not listed in the Australian Constitution as the Australian Parliament’s responsibility are the responsibility of state parliaments to make laws about. State governments then put these laws into action. But sometimes both levels of government are involved. For example: laws about the environment are made by both the Federal and state parliaments.
Each state has its own constitution which lists the rules for how that state should be governed. The Federal Parliament cannot tell the state parliaments what to do. They are each equal to each other in power and independent of each other. The territories are similar to the states but they are not as independent and the Federal parliament can disallow laws that they make. It cannot do this to the states. To provide services for their citizens, state and territory governments receive money from the Federal government but also raise money from state taxes.
The NSW Parliament is made up of two Houses:
- Legislative Assembly with 93 members representing 93 electorates
- Legislative Council with 42 members representing the whole State
This is called a bicameral parliament.
In NSW the state Government is made up of members of the Parliament who belong to the political party that won the most seats in the Legislative Assembly at the last election. The Premier leads the Government and with their appointed ministers, are responsible for putting the laws that Parliament makes into action.
NSW Parliament makes laws about:
- Public works
- Emergency services
Local councils are created by the law of the state that they are in. They do not have their own constitution and are not independent like the states and Federal Parliament. The law that tells local councils in our state what they are allowed to do is called the Local Government Act and is made by NSW Parliament.
Local councils receive funding from the NSW Government but also raise money through rates and other fees.
Local council offices are located in large urban and regional centres. There are more than 560 local councils in Australia and 129 in NSW. A local council area can be called a City, Municipal or Shire Council. Councils have between 5-15 elected Councillors and each Councillor usually represents one section (Ward) within the local government area but in some councils they represent the whole local area. The Leader of the local council area is called a Mayor or Lord Mayor. In some local councils the Mayor is directly elected. In others they are chosen from the local councillors that were elected at the last local council election.
Local Government makes laws about:
- Local roads and street
- Waste disposal
- Community services
- Swimming pools
Who does what?
Some Key Responsibilities
|THE WHOLE NATION||Prime Minister||
Federal Parliament in Canberra
House of Representatives with 150 Members representing separate electorates (including 47 in NSW)
Senate with 76 members 12 from each state, 2 from each of the two territories
STATE AND TERRITORY
(6 states, 2 territories – NT and ACT)
|Premier (or Chief Minister in territories)||
In NSW New South Wales Parliament on Macquarie Street in Sydney
Legislative Assembly with 93 members representing 93 electorates
Legislative Council with 42 members representing the whole State
More than 560 in Australia
129 in NSW
|Mayor (or Lord Mayor)||
City, Municipal or Shire Council
Local government administration offices are located in larger local centres. Councils have between 5-15 Councillors.
Each usually represents one section (Ward or Riding) within the local government area
The Federal or Commonwealth Government get their power from the areas enumerated in Section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution. Some of these key areas are listed in the above table.
The Federal Government also collects income tax and GST and redistributes this to the States and Territories so they can fund their responsibilities.
State or Territory Government
Under the Australian Constitution, the states are responsible for everything not listed as a federal responsibility. However, sometimes both levels are involved. Major state responsibilities are included in the table above.
State governments receive money from the Federal Government but also raise money from state taxes. The Northern Territory and the ACT function in a similar way to the States. However although they have self-government through a Legislative Assembly, the Federal Parliament can override any laws that they pass.
Local government areas vary greatly in size and character. The power of local governments is controlled by an Act of NSW Parliament called the Local Government Act. Some of the key matters local councils are concerned with are listed in the table above.
Local Governments in NSW receive funding from the State Government but also raise money through rates and other fees.