1387.3 - Queensland in Review, 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2003  Ceased
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Contents >> General >> Queensland - History and Government


The following is a condensed extract from 2001 Queensland Year Book (cat. no. 1301.3).


Although the first inhabitants probably arrived from south-eastern Asia about 40,000 years ago, European exploration of the area which is now Queensland occurred in the 17th century. European settlement of Queensland began in 1824 when a site for a penal settlement was chosen on the Brisbane River. By 1839, the convict establishment was phased out and the land was prepared for sale for free settlement. In 1859, the colony of Queensland was separated from New South Wales. Rapid growth was experienced after separation and this growth has continued to the present.

Image - Queen St, Brisbane - 1860

Queen St, Brisbane - 1860

At the time of the separation from New South Wales in 1859, the population of Queensland was 23,520 persons. Population growth was rapid in the early years and it took less than 5 years for the population to double.

After becoming a separate colony in 1859, Queensland quickly developed, with many towns outside Brisbane being established. For example, Ipswich and Rockhampton were constituted as towns in 1860, while Maryborough and Warwick became towns the following year. In 1862, the first telegraph link between Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba and Sydney was completed and an extensive railway construction program commenced.

The growth and development of the Queensland colony was somewhat halted when a severe economic crisis occurred in 1866. It was the discovery of gold that enabled the colony to thrive once again. Gold was discovered at Gympie, Cape River and Cloncurry in 1867. In the following two decades many other gold discoveries were made and this further helped development of settlements and towns throughout central, western and northern Queensland. Agriculture, especially the sugar industry, also expanded at this time with farms being established over a large area.

Queensland’s population passed the 250,000 mark in 1883, and reached half a million by the time of Federation in 1901 comprising 282,291 males and 224,430 females. Brisbane was proclaimed a city in 1902.

Further information may be accessed through links on the Queensland state government web pages. This link will assist you to access information on History, Queensland Premiers and Governors, State Emblems and Maps.


Commonwealth Government

Under the Australian Constitution the legislative power of the Commonwealth of Australia is vested in the Parliament of the Commonwealth. The Queen, Australia's formal head of state, is represented by the Governor-General of Australia and the Governors of the six states, each of whom exercise the constitutional powers of a head of state in their respective spheres.

The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act sets out the roles and powers of the Commonwealth government with residual matters vested in the states.

The states and the Commonwealth each have democratically elected parliaments derived from the British (Westminster) parliamentary system. Although many features of the Commonwealth Constitution (including the federal structure) are based on the constitution of the United States, the main features of the Westminster system have been retained.

For more information on the Commonwealth government and constitution, refer to the web site of the Parliament of Australia - <http://www.aph.gov.au/parl.htm>.

Queensland government

Queensland is part of a federation of the states and territories which form the Commonwealth of Australia. The Queensland state government, like that of Australia, is modelled on the British Westminster system. The state parliament takes responsibility for domestic affairs and shares mutual responsibilities with the Commonwealth government as outlined above.

Most of the parliaments in Australia are bicameral (comprising an upper house and lower house), except for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, where governments rests with a single house, and Queensland, where the upper house was abolished in 1922.

Government in Queensland, like that in other states and the Commonwealth, is based on the system of government evolved in Britain in the 18th century, and which is generally known as 'Cabinet' or 'responsible' government. Its essence is that the Governor, as titular head of state, should perform governmental acts on the advice of ministers; that ministers of state be chosen from the party or coalition of parties commanding a majority in the Legislative Assembly; that the ministry, the cabinet, so chosen should be collectively responsible for the actions and administration of government departments and authorities which have been created to put into practice the laws made by parliament and that the ministry should resign if it ceases to command a majority in the Assembly.

As outlined in the Constitution of Queensland 2001, there are 89 members of the Legislative Assembly.

For more information on the Queensland State Constitution and government, refer to the web site of the state government -

Local government

The Local Government Act allows cities, towns and shires to provide a system of government in their local areas. Thus government is exercised in the three jurisdictions of federal, state and local.

For more information on local government in Queensland refer to the web site of the Department of Local Government and Planning - <http://www.dlgp.qld.gov.au/local_govt/>

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