The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Australian States and Territories

Australia, having a federal system of government, is divided into states and territories. Each of these has a capital city, as listed below.


Internal States and Territories

  1. Australian Capital Territory (Canberra)
  2. New South Wales (Sydney)
  3. Victoria (Melbourne)
  4. Queensland (Brisbane)
  5. South Australia (Adelaide)
  6. Western Australia (Perth)
  7. Tasmania (Hobart)
  8. Northern Territory (Darwin)

Other Territories

See also the ranked list of Australian states


Background and overview

The states originated as separate British colonies prior to Federation (in 1901). Their powers are protected by the Australian constitution, and Commonwealth legislation only applies to the states where permitted by the constitution. The territories, by contrast, are from a constitutional perspective directly subject to the Commonwealth government. The Australian Parliament has powers to legislate in the territories that it does not possess in the states.

Most of the territories are directly administered by the Commonwealth government, while three (the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Norfolk Island) administer themselves. In the self-governing territories the Australian Parliament retains the full power to legislate, and can override laws made by the territorial institutions, which it has done on rare occasion. For the purposes of Australian (and joint Australia-New Zealand) intergovernmental bodies, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory are treated as a state.

Furthermore, the distribution of powers between the Commonwealth and the territories is different from that between the Commonwealth and the states. In the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth retains the power to directly administer uranium mining and Aboriginal lands, powers which it does not possess with respect to the states.

Each state has a Governor, appointed by the Queen, which by convention she does on the advice of the state Premier. The Administrators of the Northern Territory and of Norfolk Island are, by contrast, appointed by the Governor-General. The Australian Capital Territory has neither a Governor or Administrator, but the Governor-General exercises some powers in other exercised by the Governor of state or Administrator of a territory, such as the power to dissolve the Legislative Assembly.

Each state has a bicameral Parliament, patterned on the federal system, except Queensland, which abolished its upper house in 1922. The lower house is called the Legislative Assembly, except in South Australia and Tasmania, where it is called the House of Assembly. Tasmania is the only state to use proportional representation for elections to its lower house, all others elect members from single member constituencies, using the alternative vote. The upper house is called the Legislative Council, and is generally elected from multi-member constituencies using proportional representation. The three self-governing territories, the ACT, the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island, have unicameral Legislative Assemblies.

The head of government of each state is called the Premier, appointed by the state's Governor. In normal circumstances the Governor will appoint as Premier whoever leads the party or coalition which exercises control of the lower house (in the case of Queensland, the only house) of the state Parliament. However, in times of constitutional crisis, the Governor can appoint someone else as Premier. The head of government of a self-governing territory is called the Chief Minister, and likewise they are appointed by the territory's Administrator, in normal circumstances to whoever controls the territory's Legislative Assembly.

Governors and Administrators of States and Territories

Premiers and Chief Ministers of States and Territories

State and Territory Police forces

State and territory statistics

State/territory Land area (kmē) Population (2003) Density (persons/kmē) Population % in capital
Australian Capital Territory 2 358 (rank 8th) 308 700 (rank 7th) 137 (rank 1st) 100%* (rank 1st)
New South Wales 800 642 (rank 5th) 6 657 400 (rank 1st) 8.32 (rank 3rd) 63% (rank 5th)
Victoria 227 416 (rank 6th) 5 012 300 (rank 2nd) 44 (rank 2nd) 71% (rank 4th)
Queensland 1 730 648 (rank 2nd) 3 729 000 (rank 3rd) 2.15 (rank 5th) 46% (rank 7th)
South Australia 983 482 (rank 4th) 1 522 500 (rank 5th) 1.55 (rank 6th) 73.5% (rank 2nd)
Western Australia 2 529 875 (rank 1st) 1 952 280 (rank 4th) 0.77 (rank 7th) 73.4% (rank 3rd)
Tasmania 68 401 (rank 7th) 478 400 (rank 6th) 6.92 (rank 4th) 41% (rank 8th)
Northern Territory 1 349 129 (rank 3rd) 197 700 (rank 8th) 0.15 (rank 8th) 54% (rank 6th)

State and territory codes

State/Territory Callsigns Postcodes Telephone area codes Time zone
AM/FM TV Amateur Std Summer
Australian Capital Territory 1xx(x) xx(x)Cn VK1xx 02nn*, 26nn 02 +10 +11
New South Wales 2xx(x) xx(x)Nn VK2xx 1nnn*, 2nnn 02 +10 +11
Victoria 3xx(x) xx(x)Vn VK3xx 3nnn, 8nnn* 03 +10 +11
Queensland 4xx(x) xx(x)Qn VK4xx 4nnn, 9nnn* 07 +10
South Australia 5xx(x) xx(x)Sn VK5xx 5nnn 08 +9.5 +10.5
Western Australia 6xx(x) xx(x)Wn VK6xx 6nnn 08 +8
Tasmania 7xx(x) xx(x)Tn VK7xx 7nnn 03 +10 +11
Northern Territory 8xx(x) xx(x)Dn VK8xx 08nn 08 +9.5
External Territories
Norfolk Island 2xx(x)  ? VK9xx (NSW) +672 3 +11.5
Lord Howe Island 2xx(x)  ? (NSW) +10.5 +11
Christmas Island  ?  ? (WA) (WA) +7
Cocos Island  ?  ? +6.5
Aust. Antarctic Territory none VK0xx (Tas) +672 1 +6 to +8
Macquarie Island none +10 +11

* Used for PO Box and Large Users only

See also

External links

  • Map of Australia

Last updated: 02-06-2005 05:44:23
Last updated: 05-03-2005 02:30:17