Australian States vs Territories
The difference between Australian states and territories lies in the governing powers of the states and territories. Australia is a huge country and a continent in itself. It is referred to as a Commonwealth of Australia being a union of 6 states and 10 Australian territories. This division between states and territories has been done for administrative convenience. Australian states came into existence even before the federal government came into power, and these states have their powers protected in Australian constitution. Territories are under the direct control of the federal government, and parliament has powers to legislate for territories while it cannot legislate for states. This article is meant to clear up doubts pertaining to the governance of states and territories in Australia.
What are the Australian States?
The six states in Australia (5 actually as Tasmania is referred to as an island state) are British colonies that accepted the creation of Commonwealth of Australia. They gave the parliament powers to enact laws on a few subjects while retaining powers to enact laws on most other subjects. All land beyond these states that are not claimed by these states is referred to as a territory.
The six Australian states are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia.
What are the Australian Territories?
An Australian territory is a part of Australia that is not a part of a state. Unlike states, territories do not have legislatures to make laws for themselves, and it is the prerogative of the federal government to make laws for these territories. The ten Australian Territories are the Australian Capital Territory, Jervis Bay, the Northern Territory, Norfolk Island, Ashmore and Cartier Islands, the Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Islands, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island, and the Coral Sea Islands.
However, the confusion between the powers of states and territories arises because of the two mainland territories, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) that have powers almost like states. These two, along with Norfolk Island have their own legislatures and parliaments to make laws for themselves just like other states. While the powers of the states are clearly defined in the constitution, the powers of these territories are spelt out in Australian Government Law that grants powers of self-governance to them. However, it has to be understood that these are special powers, and the federal government can cancel or revoke these special powers by approval of the Australian parliament. So, this power the Australian parliament has on these territories show that they are still territories though they have some special powers that are similar to states. On rare occasions, the federal government even has overridden laws made by these territories though, they are mostly treated like other states and hence the confusion. There is a provision in the Australian constitution that says that territories, when they so desire, shall become a state of the country. However, this requires prior approval from Australian parliament.
What is the difference between Australian States and Territories?
• Definition of Australian States and Territories:
• States in Australia are lands that came forward to accept a Commonwealth of Australia and gave the federal government powers to legislate on some subjects while retaining rights to make laws on some subjects for themselves.
• Territories are lands that are not claimed by these states and are directly governed by the Australian parliament.
• Number of Australian States and Territories:
• There are 6 States in Australia.
• There are 10 Territories in Australia. Out of these 2 are mainland territories.
• Names of Australian States and Territories:
• The six Australian states are New South Wales (NSW), Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania.
• The ten Australian Territories are the Australian Capital Territory, Jervis Bay, the Northern Territory, Norfolk Island, Ashmore and Cartier Islands, the Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Islands, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island and the Coral Sea Islands.
• Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Northern Territory (NT) are are mainland territories.
• Powers of states are defined in the constitution.
• The Australian government law decides powers of territories.
• Final Power in Decisions:
• States have the final powers in deciding within their area.
• The final power of decisions in territories lies with the commonwealth parliament or the Australian parliament.
• A state has the power to send representatives to the Australian parliament. Each state sends 12 representatives.
• Territories do not have the power of representation in the Australian parliament.
• Two mainland territories have representatives in the parliament. However, one territory can send only one representative.
• Rights of People:
• People of states are guaranteed special rights such as trial by jury, compensation when the government acquires property, etc.
• People of territories are not guaranteed with such rights.