Australia's system of government

The role of our government

There are three levels of government in Australia. Each level has different responsibilities and provides different services.


The Federal (or Commonwealth) government is Australia's national government. It implements laws made by the Commonwealth Parliament. These include trade and commerce, quarantine, currency, patents, marriage, immigration, defence, telecommunications, and the provision of welfare and other assistance payments such as Medicare, Centrelink, and Job Network.


Australia’s states (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania) and territories (Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory) are responsible for policing, public schools, roads and traffic, public hospitals, public housing, and business regulation.


Local governments can be in the form of a city or town council or a shire. They are responsible for town planning, building approvals, local roads, parking, public libraries, public toilets, water and sewerage, waste removal, domestic animals and community facilities. Local taxes (called rates) are collected from home owners based on the value of their home. These taxes are used to pay for the services provided. Local governments also collect parking fees.

Last updated: Friday, 7 December 2012