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 >> Historical Development


The site for the Australian seat of government, then called the Federal Capital Territory, was chosen in 1908. On 1 January 1911, New South Wales (NSW) ceded its government authority over this area and parliamentary power of the Territory was vested in the Commonwealth. In 1938, the Federal Capital Territory officially became the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

Until 1989 the ACT was administered by the Federal Government, through the Federal Minister for Territories.


In 1988, the Federal Government legislated for self-governance within the ACT through the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 making the ACT a self-governing territory and separate legal entity. With the introduction of self-government on 11 May 1989, most Ordinances (subordinate legislation under Acts that provide for the Commonwealth to administer Territories) in force at that time became Acts.

However, the Commonwealth has reserved some Ordinances in areas such as national land and the Corporations Law. Under Section 122 of the Constitution, the Commonwealth Parliament still retains full legislative capacity with respect to the ACT, although these could be seen as reserve powers to be used only in special or unusual circumstances. Furthermore, under Section 34 of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988, the Governer-General (in Council) may make Ordinances in certain areas of ACT law.

The ACT is currently represented in the Commonwealth Parliament by two Members in the House of Representatives and two Senators, Ms Annette Ellis (member for Canberra), Mr Bob McMullen (Member for Fraser), Mr Gary Humphries and Ms Kate Lundy. Unlike the states and the Northern Territory (NT), the ACT does not have a Governor/Administrator.

The Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 provided for the establishment of the ACT’s Legislative Assembly and Executive. The first two Legislative Assembly elections (1989 and 1992) were held using a modified version of the d’Hondt system. Since then, the proportional representation Hare-Clarke system has been used. The Electoral (Amendment) Act 1997 changed the date of Assembly elections from February to October.



First Assembly
4 March 1989
Second Assembly
15 February 1992
Third Assembly
18 February 1995
Fourth Assembly
21 February 1998
Fifth Assembly
20 October 2001
Sixth Assembly
16 October 2004

Elections ACT, Election results.

The Electoral Act 1992 requires a redistribution of electoral boundaries before each general election for the ACT Legislative Assembly. The election for the Seventh Assembly is due to be held on 18 October 2008. The ACT Legislative Assembly electoral boundaries for the 2008 election were announced on 11 September 2007.

Seventeen members are elected into the ACT Legislative Assembly - five members each from Brindabella and Ginninderra, and seven members from Molonglo. The names of each electorate are all derived from Aboriginal words:

  • "Brindabella", named after the mountain range to the south of Canberra, is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning "two kangaroo rats".
  • "Ginninderra" is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning "sparkling like the stars". This name was first given to a creek flowing through the middle of Belconnen, which was later dammed to form Lake Ginninderra (on which the Belconnen Town Centre is sited)
  • "Molonglo" is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning "like the sound of thunder". It is also the name of the river flowing through this central electorate, which was dammed to form Lake Burley Griffin, one of the focal points of Canberra.


Electorate Statistical Subdivision (SSD)

Tuggeranong (excluding Hume)
Southern remainder of the ACT (including Tharwa)
Canberra Central
Weston Creek
Woden Valley
Jerrabomberra (including Hume)

(a) Includes Chifley, Farrer, Pearce & Torrens from the Woden Valley SSD and the southern remainder of the ACT.
(b) Includes Hall and Nicholls from the Gungahlin-Hall SSD.
(c) Excludes Chifley, Farrer, Pearce & Torrens from the Woden Valley SSD and Hall & Nicholls from the Gungahlin-Hall SSD. Includes Kowen, Majura and Stromlo.
Elections ACT, List of Localities.

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