Snapshots – Three levels of Government

Video duration: 2 min 27


Australia is a big country, and running it is a big job! That's why we have three levels of law-making – sometimes called the three levels of government – that work together to serve Australia.

The first level is the federal, or national, Parliament which meets at Parliament House in Canberra.

The federal Parliament has the power to make laws for the whole country. This power is listed in the Constitution and covers issues like immigration, marriage, communications, taxation, defence and foreign affairs – things that affect all Australians.

Next is the state level which contains Australia's six state and two territory parliaments. They meet in the capital city of each state or territory. Parliaments at this level make laws that are enforced within their own state or territory.

These laws relate to areas not covered by Australia's Constitution. Things like schools, hospitals, roads, railways, electricity, water, mining and agriculture. On some issues, federal and state parliaments both have the power to make laws. If federal and state laws conflict on these issues, then the federal law will override the state one.

The third level is the local level, made up of more than 560 councils across Australia. Councils are elected in a similar way to members of the federal and state parliaments.

Councils are responsible for issues such as local roads, parks, rubbish collection, library services, street signage, and pet control – things that could be considered local services or matters.

These three levels of law-making work together to govern Australia. Each level has different responsibilities and plays a vital role in keeping Australia running.