Government of the Northern Territory

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Logo of the Northern Territory Government

The Government of the Northern Territory operates according to the principles of the Westminster system, a form of parliamentary government based on the model of the United Kingdom. The Northern Territory has had internal self-government since 1978, but it does not have the full legislative independence of the Australian states.

Legislative and executive powers[edit]

Legislative power rests with the Legislative Assembly, which consists of the Crown (represented by the Administrator of the Northern Territory) and the members of the Assembly. While the Assembly exercises roughly the same powers as the state governments of Australia, it does so by a delegation of powers from the Federal Government, rather than by any constitutional right. This means that the Australian Parliament retains the right to legislate for the Territory. It also means that the Federal Cabinet can advise the Governor-General of Australia to overturn any legislation passed by the Assembly; the Federal Government exercised this power, for instance, when it repealed the Territory's voluntary euthanasia laws. (See also Electoral systems of the Australian states and territories).

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.

Current parliament[edit]

The current head of government is Chief Minister Adam Giles of the Country Liberal Party. The current Leader of the Opposition Australian Labor Party is Delia Lawrie.

Federal representation of NT[edit]

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.

Proposed Northern Territory statehood[edit]

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.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]