The government consists of a Ministry appointed by the Administrator, from the elected members of the Assembly. The Administrator normally appoints the leader of the majority party in the Assembly as the Chief Minister. The remaining members of the ministry are appointed by the Administrator on the advice of the Chief Minister. The Northern Territory Government is a member of the Council of Australian Governments.
The territory is represented in the Commonwealth parliament by two members in the House of Representatives, the Division of Solomon and Division of Lingiari, and two members in the Senate. The Member for Lingiari also represents voters from Australia's Indian Ocean Territories (Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands), while the Northern Territory Senators represent those voters in the Senate.
For many years there has been agitation for statehood. A referendum was held on the issue in 1998, but the proposal was narrowly rejected. This was a shock to both the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments, for opinion polls showed most Territorians supported statehood. However, under s. 121 of the Australian Constitution, the terms of admission of new states are decided by the Commonwealth Parliament. The terms offered included an increase to three seats in the Senate from two. The other states all have 12 senators. Alongside what was cited as an arrogant approach adopted by then Chief Minister Shane Stone, it is thought that many Territorians were reluctant to accept statehood on the offered terms.