Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988

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Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988
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An Act to provide for the Government of the Australian Capital Territory, and for related purposes
Enacted by Parliament of Australia
Date signed 6 December 1988

The Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 is an Act of the Parliament of Australia enacted on 6 December 1988, that establishes ‘a body politic under the Crown by the name of the Australian Capital Territory’ and is the Territory’s constitutional foundation.


The territory presently called the Australian Capital Territory was transferred to the Commonwealth by the state of New South Wales as the Federal Capital Territory on 1 January 1911,[1] to be the seat of the federal government. The planning and construction of Canberra followed, with the Parliament of Australia moving there in 1927.

In 1930, the ACT Advisory Council replaced the Federal Capital Commission, which had existed since 1925. The Council and the Minister for Territories administered the ACT. In 1934, the ACT Supreme Court was created. The Territory officially became the Australian Capital Territory in 1938.

In 1974, the Advisory Council became a fully elected Australian Capital Territory House of Assembly, but with only an advisory role to the Department of the Capital Territory. In 1979 the House of Assembly had 18 elected members. In 1978, the Australian Capital Territory voted at a referendum on whether the ACT should be granted self-government. Voters were given the choice of becoming a self-governing territory, a local government or continuing with the Legislative Assembly being an advisory body to the Department of the Capital Territory. 63.75% voted to continue with the then current arrangement.[2]

Despite the outcome of the referendum, the ACT Assembly was dissolved in 1986, and the Parliament of Australia passed the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act in 1988 and the ACT became a self-governing territory in 1989. The first elections in the ACT were held on 4 March 1989; and the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly first sat on 11 May that year.

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