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. Queensland and the two territories have unicameral parliaments, with the single house being called Legislative Assembly. The other states have a bicameral parliament, with a lower house called the Legislative Assembly (New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia) or House of Assembly (South Australia and Tasmania), and an upper house called the Legislative Council.
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.
The Parliament of New South Wales is a bicameral legislature comprising the New South Wales Legislative Council, the Legislative Assembly and the Queen, represented by the Governor of New South Wales. The Legislative Council has 42 members elected for eight-year terms with half the members facing re-election every four years. They are elected by proportional voting 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.
The Parliament of Victoria is a bicameral legislature comprising the Victorian Legislative Council, the Legislative Assembly and the Queen, represented by the Governor of Victoria. The Legislative Council has 40 members, elected for four-year terms, elected from eight multi-member constituencies, each with five members, using proportional voting. The Legislative Assembly has 88 members elected for fixed four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using preferential voting. Voting is compulsory, and elections take place on the third Saturday of November every four years.
The Parliament of Queensland is a unicameral legislature comprising the Legislative Assembly and the Queen, represented by the Governor of Queensland. The Legislative Assembly has 93 members elected for fixed four-year terms in single-member constituencies using preferential voting. Voting is compulsory.
The Parliament of South Australia is a bicameral legislature comprising the South Australian Legislative Council and the House of Assembly. According to the South Australian Constitution, unlike the Federal Parliament, and the parliaments of the other states and territories of Australia, neither the Sovereign nor the Governor is considered to be a part of the South Australian Parliament. The Legislative Council has 22 members, elected for eight-year terms by proportional voting with half the members facing re-election every four years, and the House of Assembly which has 47 members, elected for four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using preferential voting. Voting is compulsory.
The Parliament of Western Australia is a bicameral legislature comprising the Western Australian Legislative Council, the Legislative Assembly and the Queen, represented by the Governor of Western Australia. The Legislative Council has 36 members, elected for fixed four-year terms from six multi-member electoral regions by "community of interest" --3 metropolitan and 3 rural--each electing 6 members by proportional voting. There is a significant malapportionment in the Legislative Council in favour of rural regions. The Legislative Assembly has 59 members, elected for fixed four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using preferential voting. Voting is compulsory, with elections being held every four years on the second Saturday in March, though the term of the Legislative Council does not expire until May after the election.
The Parliament of Tasmania is a bicameral legislature comprising the Tasmanian Legislative Council, the House of Assembly and the Governor of Tasmania. The Legislative Council has 15 members, elected for six-year terms, elected from single-member constituencies on a rotational basis with either two or three being elected each year, using full preferential voting. The House of Assembly has 25 members elected for four-year terms from multi-member constituencies, using the Hare-Clark system of proportional representation. Voting is compulsory.
The Parliament of the Northern Territory is a unicameral legislature comprising the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly and the Administrator. The Legislative Assembly has 25 members, elected for four-year terms from single-member constituencies, using preferential voting. The head of government is called the Chief Minister.
In the external territory of Norfolk Island located in the South Pacific Ocean, the local legislative body is the Norfolk Island Regional Council, established in 2016. The island was previously governed by a Norfolk Legislative Assembly. Formed after the Norfolk Island Act 1979 was passed in the Australian parliament, its first members were elected on the tenth of August 1979. The assembly consisted of 9 members elected every three years by popular vote. It was abolished in June 2015 as part of a reorganisation of the territory's government by the Parliament of Australia.
In the external territory of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, the Shire Council provides local governance. The nine-member Shire Council was established in 1993. Councilors serve four-year terms, with four or five being chosen every second year.
In the external territory of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean, the Shire of Cocos is the local legislative body. Established in 1993, the Shire Council consists of 7 members serving terms of four years. Elections for half the seats are held every two years.
|Lower House||Upper House||Total|
|Electoral System||Established||Name||No. of
|States||NSW||1856||Legislative Assembly||93||Single Member
Instant Runoff (IR)
|1825||Legislative Council||42||Single Transferable Vote (STV) at-large||Yes||135|
|QLD||1859||Legislative Assembly||93||Single Member IR||Unicameral (Legislative Council existed 1860-1922)||93|
|SA||1857||House of Assembly||47||Single Member IR||1840||Legislative Council||22||STV at-large||Yes||69|
|TAS||1856||House of Assembly||25||STV in five constituencies||1825||Legislative Council||15||Single Member IR||Yes||40|
|VIC||1855||Legislative Assembly||88||Single Member IR||1851||Legislative Council||40||STV in eight constituencies||No||128|
|WA||1890||Legislative Assembly||59||Single Member IR||1832||Legislative Council||36||STV in six constituencies||No||95|
|ACT||1989||Legislative Assembly||25||STV in five constituencies||Unicameral||25|
|NT||1974||Legislative Assembly||25||Single member IR||25|
|CX||1993||Shire Council||9||STV at-large||9|
|CC||1993||Shire Council||7||STV at-large||7|
|NI||2016||Regional Council||5||STV at-large||5|
|Nation||Aus||1901||House of Representatives||151||Single Member IR||1901||Senate||76||STV in six states and two territories||Yes||227|