Country Idealist Profiles

Northern Territory – Administrative Structure

Posted in Australia, Northern Territory (Australia), Northern Territory (Australia) Basics by mjoymatheson on August 14, 2008

The Government of the Northern Territory is a unicameral parliament, i.e. a legislative assembly.  While the Assembly exercises roughly the same powers as the state governments of Australia, it does so by a delegation of powers from the Federal Government, rather than by any constitutional right. This means that the Federal Government is entitled to overturn any legislation passed by the Assembly.

The Northern Territory Legislative Assembly is the unicameral parliament of the Northern Territory. It sits in Parliament House, located on State Square, close to the centre of the city of Darwin.  The Legislative Assembly members are elected for four-year terms. A speaker is elected by the members of the Assembly, as are six ministers to serve on the Executive Council.

Northern Territory Executive power is exercised by the administrator (similar to a governor or chief minister), who is advised by an Executive Council consisting of the ministers of the territory.  The Administrator also appoints the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, the head of government of a self-governing territory. In normal circumstances, the Administrator will appoint the head of whatever party holds the majority of seats in the legislature of the territory.

For several years there has been agitation for the Northern Territory’s full statehood. A referendum was held on the issue in 1998, but the measure failed. This was a shock to both the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments, for opinion polls showed most Territorians supported statehood. However, under the Australian Constitution, the Federal government sets the terms of entry to full statehood. The Northern Territory was only offered 2 Federal Senators, rather than the 12 enjoyed by other states.  They also have two representatives in the House of Representatives.

The highest court in the Northern Territory is the Supreme Court, which hears appeals from lower courts as well as original cases involving serious crimes. Magistrate courts—based in Darwin, Alice Springs, and Katherine—hear civil and criminal cases of somewhat less magnitude; they also have jurisdiction over the local courts and over various specialized courts dealing with juveniles, family issues, work health, unusual death, and other matters. The local courts, the lowest in the judicial system, hear civil cases involving debt and damages amounting to less than $100,000 (Australian).

Source(s): /People#tab=active~checked%2Citems~checked&title=Northern%20Territory%20%3A%3A%20People%20–%20Britannica%20Online%20Encyclopedia


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