There is only one Commonwealth Government and its leader is called the Prime Minister. In the present day, that is Julia Gillard.
The State Government is the middle tier government. In Australia, there are six state governments and two self-governing territories. The two are the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. Other minor territories take their own self-governance.
The leader of each state is called the Premier, while the leader of each territory is called the Chief Minister.
The Local Government also called council, city or shire, is the bottom tier of the government hierarchy. There are around 565 local governments in Australia, divided around Australia, bounded by each state.
The leader of a local government is called the mayor of shire president.
The Australian Constitution, formulated at Federation, in 1901, is the document that provides the overall framework for Australia’s system of democratic government and the relationship between the Commonwealth and state governments. The Commonwealth Government, and sometimes the State Government, as stated in certain sections, directly follows under this supreme law.
Specifically, Section 51 of the Constitution of Australia lists the 39 ‘heads of power’ of the Commonwealth Government.
The main heads of power include economy, which allows the Commonwealth Government to raise or lower taxes, determine government expenditure and other economic decisions. Defence refers to the ability for the Commonwealth Government to control and manage the Australian Defence Force and its actions domestically and internationally. The Government can also determine the numbers of immigrants, both coming in and going out. It can influence this by implementing certain immigration policies. The Government also serves as the authoritative body registering official marriages and divorces in Australia. Recently, this certain factor has been much debated, on whether this applies to gay marriages. The Government also manages Indigenous relations, in terms of reconciliation and social welfare payments.
Over the years, the powers of the Federal Government have changed. For example, in Section 51 (xxvi) used to allow the Government to determine special laws for Aboriginal people and discriminate against them. Following the 1967 referendum, this was effectively changed.
Also, recent debates in the application of gay marriages in the Constitution can soon result in changes.
Sometimes, powers between Commonwealth and State Governments can conflict, in most cases, Commonwealth law completely overrules State law. However, in times of disputes, the High Court of Australia can determine the result and effectively has absolute jurisdiction.
The Parliament of Australia is bicameral, meaning it has two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The first of which, holds 150 members of Parliament, representing each electorate in Australia. The members are chosen through a nationwide compulsory preferential voting system, for a three-year term or less, after which another election occurs.
The Senate holds 76 members, 12 per state and 2 per territory. These members are voted in for six-years by single transferable voting. However, every three years, half are re-elected.
To be the Australian Government, a party must achieve absolute majority in the House of Representatives in a federal election. The winning party chooses its leader who will become the Prime Minister of Australia. The official location of meeting is at Parliament House, Canberra.
The State Government have less important powers and a more limited variety of roles, due to the fact that federal powers overrule them. However, the State Government has the ability to understand and