1307.8 - Australian Capital Territory in Focus, 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/11/2007  Ceased
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Contents >> Government >> Governance in the ACT


There are three arms of governance within the ACT: the Legislature (consisting of the 17 elected members of the Legislative Assembly), the Executive (consisting of the Chief Minister and up to four Ministers appointed by the Chief Minister), and the Judiciary (consisting of the ACT Supreme Court and ACT Magistrates Court).

The Legislature

The ACT Legislative Assembly is a unicameral parliament, that is, it has no equivalent Senate or Legislative Council. It is also unique among Australian parliaments because it performs both state/territory and municipal functions. The Assembly will therefore act at a state level in some matters (e.g. education, health, policing and industrial relations), but will act at what is usually a local council level in others (e.g. waste management and road maintenance). As a result the ACT is sometimes referred to as a 'city state'.

The Assembly is also unusual in that the Crown does not play a direct part in the legislation process. In the Federal Parliament the Governor-General signs each Bill as the last stage of creating an Act. If a Bill is passed by the ACT Assembly, it is gazetted (i.e. a notice is placed in the Gazette) by the Chief Minister and it becomes an Act, that is, part of the law of the ACT.

The ACT Legislative Assembly is made up of 17 full-time members who serve a fixed four-year term. They are referred to as Members of the Legislative Assembly, or MLA's and represent the citizens of the ACT from each of the three electorates, Brindabella (five members), Ginninderra (five members) and Molonglo (seven members). The MLA's have power to: elect a Chief Minister who forms a government to administer the ACT; make laws; investigate and debate matters of public importance; review the actions of the Government; and oversee the financial matters of the Government. The Chief Minister appoints ministers from the Assembly, with the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 limiting the number of ministers to five. The Speaker is elected by and represents the Assembly in all contact with outside bodies.


Electorate Party Position

Barr, Mr Andrew Molongo ALP Minister for Education and Training; Minister for Industrial Relations; Minister for Planning; Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation
Berry, Mr Wayne Ginninderra ALP Speaker
Burke, Mrs Jacqui Molonglo Liberal Deputy Leader of the Opposition; Shadow Minister for Health and Disability; Shadow Minister for Housing
Corbell, Mr Simon Molonglo ALP Minister for Police and Emergency Services; Attorney General
Dunne, Mrs Vicki Ginninderra Liberal Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services; Shadow Minister for Women; Shadow Minister for Education
Foskey, Dr Deb Molonglo ACT Greens Crossbench Member
Gallagher, Ms Katy Molonglo ALP Deputy Chief Minister; Minister for Health; Minister for Women; Minister for Disability and Community Services; Minister for Children and Young People
Gentleman, Mr Mick Brindabella ALP Back Bench Member
Hargreaves, Mr John Brindabella ALP Minister for Multicultural Affairs; Minister for the Territory and Municipal Services; Minister for Housing
MacDonald, Ms Karin Brindabella ALP Government member
Mulcahy, Mr Richard Molonglo Liberal Shadow Minister for Heritage and the Arts; Shadow Minister for Ageing; Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations; Shadow Treasurer
Porter AM, Ms Mary Ginninderra ALP Back Bench Member
Pratt, Mr Steve Brindabella Liberal Deputy Speaker; Shadow Minister for Emergency Services; Shadow Minister for Urban Services; Shadow Minister for Transport; Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs
Seselja, Mr Zed Molonglo Liberal Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee; Shadow Minister for Corrective Services; Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure; Shadow Minister for Young People; Shadow Minister for Illicit Drugs Policy
Smyth, Mr Brendan Brindabella Liberal Opposition Whip; Manager of Opposition Business; Shadow Minister for Gaming and Racing; Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs; Shadow MInister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism; Shadow Minister for Business and Economic Development, Employment and Training; Shadow Minister for Housing Affordability
Stanhope, Mr Jon Ginninderra ALP Chief Minister; Minister for the Arts; Minister for Business and Economic Development; Treasurer; Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change; Minister for Indigenous Affairs
Stefaniak, Mr Bill Ginninderra Liberal Leader of the Opposition; Shadow Attorney General; Shadow Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change; Shadow Minister for Police, Justice and Community Safety, Whole-of-Government, Public Service

Legislative Assembly of the ACT, Members; Legislative Assembly of the ACT, Ministerial responsibilities.

The Executive

As the ACT has no Governor or Administrator, there is no Executive Council as in the other states and the NT. Instead, the Chief Minister and up to four Ministers appointed by the Chief Minister form the ACT Executive, or Cabinet. The Cabinet's functions are to: collectively govern and administer the Territory; implement all Territory law; and develop and manage the budget. Such power is similar to that accorded to the legislatures of the states and is the most broad-ranging power that can be conferred.

The Chief Minister allocates to each minister the responsibility to administer certain functions. These include education, roads and transport, health, policing, the environment and employment. The Chief Minister fulfils the roles of both State Premier and Mayor.

The Judiciary

In April 1992, the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 was amended to expressly establish and recognise the third arm of Government within the Territory: the Judiciary. Following this, the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court (Transfer) Act 1992 came into effect on 1 July 1992, relinquishing the Commonwealth's direct responsibility for the administration of justice in the ACT.

While the Assembly makes laws for the ACT, the Judiciary is responsible for dispensing justice and ensuring the rule of law. Judges within the Supreme Court, and Magistrates within the Magistrates Court, interpret laws and apply them to individual cases. The cases may be civil, criminal or administrative actions. Judges and magistrates are appointed in accordance with law and can only be removed in exceptional circumstances.

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