Australian Government: Government is formed in the House of Representatives by the party able to command a majority in that chamber, through the electoral process. The Senate, also chosen through the electoral process, serves as a chamber of review for the decisions of the government.
The Federal or Commonwealth Government is responsible for the conduct of national affairs. Its areas of responsibility are stated in the Australian Constitution and include defence and foreign affairs; trade, commerce and currency; immigration; postal services, telecommunications and broadcasting; air travel; most social services and pensions. The Federal Government is also involved, mainly through funding, in many functions largely carried out by the States, such as health, education, environmental issues, industrial relations, etc.
State Government: State Parliaments are subject to the national Constitution as well as their State or Territory Constitutions. A federal law overrides any state law not consistent with it.
Under the Australian Constitution, the States or Territories are responsible for everything not listed as a Federal responsibility. However, sometimes both levels are involved. Major State responsibilities include schools, hospitals, conservation and environment, roads, railways and public transport, public works, agriculture and fishing, industrial relations, community services, sport and recreation, consumer affairs, police, prisons and emergency services. Each state has its own constitution setting out its system of government.
Local Government: Each State or Territory is divided into smaller areas overseen by a Local Council responsible for matters pertaining specifically to that area. Local Government areas vary greatly in size and character. The bigger country centres have city or municipal councils. Large but less populated country areas, with a number of small towns and large rural areas, are usually shires with a Shire Council based in one of the larger towns. The power of local governments is controlled by Acts of State Parliament such as the Local Government Acts.
Local Councils are concerned with matters close to our homes, such as building regulations and development, public health, local roads and footpaths, parks and playing fields, libraries, local environmental issues, waste disposal, and many community services.
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