Parliaments of the Australian states and territories

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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. Each State except Queensland has a bicameral parliament, with a lower house called the Legislative Assembly or House of Assembly, and an upper house called the Legislative Council. The parliaments of Queensland and the two territories are unicameral.

Background[edit]

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 territories[edit]

New South Wales[edit]

The New South Wales Legislative Council is the oldest legislative body in Australia, having been created in 1825 as an appointed body to advise the Governor. The Legislative Assembly was created in 1856 when New South Wales attained self-government.

Currently, the Legislative Council has 42 members serving eight-year terms with half the members facing re-election every four years. They are elected by proportional representation 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.

Victoria[edit]

Victoria's Legislative Council was created in 1851. The Legislative Assembly was created in 1855 when Victoria attained self-government.

Until November 2006, the Legislative Council had 44 members serving eight-year terms and elected from single-member constituencies, and after that date it has had 40 members, each serving four-year terms. They are elected from eight multi-member constituencies, each with five members, elected by proportional representation. Since 2006, the Legislative Assembly has had 88 members elected for fixed four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using preferential voting.

Queensland[edit]

Queensland's Legislative Assembly was created in 1859 when the then colony attained self-government. The Legislative Council was created in 1860 as a fully nominated body. The Legislative Council was abolished by the Constitution Amendment Act 1921, which took effect on 23 March 1922.

Currently, the Legislative Assembly has 89 members elected for three-year terms from single-member constituencies, using optional preferential voting.

South Australia[edit]

South Australia's Legislative Council was created in 1840 as an appointed body. The House of Assembly was created in 1857 when South Australia attained self-government.

Currently, the Legislative Council has 22 members, elected for eight-year terms by proportional representation with half the members facing re-election every four years, and the House of Assembly which has had 47 members since 1970, elected for four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using preferential voting.

Western Australia[edit]

Western Australia's Legislative Council was created in 1832 as an appointed body. The Legislative Assembly was created in 1890 when Western Australia attained self-government.

Currently, the Legislative Council has 36 members elected for four-year terms from multi-member constituencies by proportional representation, and the Legislative Assembly has 59 members, elected for four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using preferential voting.

Tasmania[edit]

Tasmania's Legislative Council was created in 1825 as an appointed body. (Tasmania was then called Van Diemen's Land.) The House of Assembly was created in 1856 when Tasmania attained self-government.

Currently, the Legislative Council has 15 members, elected for six-year terms from single-member constituencies, and the House of Assembly has 25 members, elected for four-year terms from multi-member constituencies, using the Hare-Clark system of proportional representation.

Australian Capital Territory[edit]

The Australian Capital Territory's Legislative Assembly was created by an act of the Commonwealth Parliament in 1989, replacing an earlier advisory body, the House of Assembly (also known for a period as the Legislative Assembly), which existed from 1976 to 1986.

Currently, the Legislative Assembly has 17 members, elected for four-year terms from multi-member constituencies, using the Hare-Clark system of proportional representation.

Northern Territory[edit]

The Northern Territory's Legislative Assembly was created by an act of the Commonwealth Parliament in 1974. An earlier advisory body, the Northern Territory Legislative Council, existed from 1947 to 1974.

Currently, the Legislative Assembly has 25 members, elected for four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using preferential voting.

Summary[edit]

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 89 1860 (Legislative Council) abolished 1922 89
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 17 unicameral parliament 17
NT 1974 Legislative Assembly 25 unicameral parliament 25

See also[edit]

External links[edit]