Australian Capital Territory - Governance

Governance

See also: Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly See also: Electoral systems of the Australian states and territories

The ACT has internal self-government, but Australia's Constitution does not afford the territory government the full legislative independence provided to Australian states. Laws are made in a 17-member Legislative Assembly that has all state and local government functions.

Members of the Legislative Assembly are elected via the Hare Clarke system. The ACT Chief Minister (currently Katy Gallagher, Australian Labor Party) is elected by members of the ACT Assembly. The ACT Government is a member of the Council of Australian Governments.

Unlike other self-governing Australian territories (e.g. Norfolk Island, Northern Territory), the ACT does not have an Administrator. The Crown is represented by the Australian Governor-General in the government of the ACT. Until 4 December 2011, the decisions of the assembly could be overruled by the Governor-General (effectively by the national government) under section 35 of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988, although the federal government voted in 2011 to abolish this veto power, instead requiring a majority of both houses of the federal parliament to override an enactment of the ACT. The Chief Minister performs many of the roles that a state governor normally holds in the context of a state, however the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly gazettes the laws and summons meetings of the Assembly.

In Australia's Federal Parliament, the ACT is represented by four federal members: two members of the House of Representatives; the Division of Fraser and the Division of Canberra and is one of only two territories to be represented in the Senate, with two Senators (the other being the Northern Territory). The Member for Fraser and the ACT Senators also represent the constituents of the Jervis Bay Territory.

In 1915 the Jervis Bay Territory Acceptance Act 1915 created the Jervis Bay Territory as an annexe to the Australian Capital Territory. In 1988, when the ACT gained self-government, Jervis Bay became a separate territory administered by the Australian Government Minister responsible for Territories, presently the Minister for Home Affairs (Australia).

The ACT retains a small area of territory on the coast on the Beecroft Peninsula, consisting of a strip of coastline around the northern headland of Jervis Bay (not to be confused with the Jervis Bay Territory, which is on the southern headland of the Bay). The ACT's land on the Beecroft Peninsula is an "exclave", that is, an area of territory not physically connected to the main part of the ACT. Interestingly, this ACT exclave surrounds a small exclave of NSW territory, namely the Point Perpendicular lighthouse which is at the southern tip of the Beecroft Peninsula. The lighthouse and its grounds are New South Wales territory, but cut off from the rest of the state by the strip of ACT land. This is a geographic curiosity: an exclave of NSW land enclosed by an exclave of ACT land.

Read more about this topic:  Australian Capital Territory

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