Landscape view of two buildingsAustralian Government

The Australian Government, sometimes referred to as the Commonwealth Government or the Federal Government, was established by the Australian Constitution. It is divided into three arms of government:

  • Legislative Power
  • Executive Power
  • Judiciary Power.

The Legislative Power, also known simply as parliament, is made up of democratically-elected representatives from around Australia. The Parliament of Australia comprises two separate chambers, the House of Representatives (or 'the lower house') and the Senate (or 'the upper house').

The Executive Power is the administrative arm of government, and is made up of government employees (the public service) working in a number of departments and agencies. The executive is empowered by the laws of Australia to put those laws into operation and uphold those laws once they have begun to operate.

The Judiciary Power is the legal arm of the government.

The Commonwealth Government makes laws affecting the whole of Australia for example taxation, quarantine, defence and immigration.  For more information go to the Australian Government website.

State and territory governments influence migration policy and facilitate migration by participating in state specific and regional migration programs.

The Northern Territory Government 

The parliament of the Northern Territory is the Legislative Assembly with 25 members and a ministerial cabinet lead by a chief minister.

The Northern Territory has a Westminster style of government with no upper house. The Head of State is the Administrator, rather than the Governor as in other Australian jurisdictions. For more information go to the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory website.

Local government is the second tier, with city councils and shire councils administering by-laws and spending on services and infrastructure according to the needs of their jurisdictions.

Northern Territory laws are similar to those in other parts of Australia, but with some notable exceptions to account for unique situations.

Examples are the Australian Government’s Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act and the Northern Territory Liquor Act. The first governs ownership of, and access to, some 50% of Territory land under Aboriginal ownership. The second restricts or prohibits possession, supply or use of alcohol in certain areas, including ‘dry’ communities.

Voting is compulsory for all Australian citizens. For more information on enrolling to vote, go to the Australian Electoral Commission website.