ACT Legislative Assembly


A series of posters presenting information on the features and parliamentary processes of the Legislative Assembly for the ACT.

What makes the ACT Legislative Assembly unique

Poster highlighting what makes the ACT Legislative Assembly unique

Print version of the poster (PDF 1.1MB)

What makes the ACT Legislative Assembly unique?

  • The Assembly is one of only two self-governing parliaments in all of Australia's ten territories.
  • Unlike every other state and territory, the Assembly votes to elect the Chief Minister after an election.
  • There is no Governor to sign bills into law in the ACT. New laws are notified on a website.
  • The Assembly's mace is made of timber and steel, rather than gold and without the traditional crown and royal symbolism.
  • The Assembly is the only parliament which combines both the state and local levels of government.

Who's who in the ACT Assembly

Poster highlighting who sits where in the chamber of the ACT Legislative Assembly

Print version of the poster (PDF 270KB)

Who's who in the ACT Assembly:

  • Speaker - the member who runs the debate and maintains order, just like a referee or umpire.
  • Clerk - the seniormost parliamentary official, who makes sure that the Assembly runs smoothly.
  • Deputy Clerk our Deputy Clerk is also the Serjeant-at-Arms and is in charge of the Assembly's mace.
  • Principal Attendant - provides security in the chamber and circulates papers to members.
  • Chief Minister - the leader of the Government, elected by a vote in the Legislative Assembly.
  • Opposition Leader - the leader of the second largest party in the Assembly
  • Deputy leaders.
  • Ministers - members responsible for policy making for the ACT.
  • Government backbench - members of the governing party who are not part of the executive (ministers).
  • Opposition frontbench - all opposition members focus on certain issues to keep ministers accountable through shadow ministries.
  • Opposition backbench.
  • Crossbench - minor party and independent members who often hold the Assembly's balance of power.
  • Public gallery - where members of the public can come, sit, and watch members doing their jobs.

The legislative process in the ACT Assembly

Poster outlining the legislative process in the ACT Legislative Assembly

Print version of the poster (PDF 1.2MB)

The legislative process in the ACT Assembly:

  • Input from:
    • intergovernmental agreements;
    • petitions and public consultation;
    • government initiatives; and
    • campaign promises.
  • Drafting  - the Parliamentary Counsel's Office receive directions to write a new bill (draft law).
  • Presentation - the bill is then presented in the Assembly by a member. It is then send to the Scrutiny Committee. Sometimes, the Assembly sends a bill to another committee for an inquiry.
  • Scrutiny - the Scrutiny Committee checks bills comply with the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT)
  • Inquiry - Committees sometimes examine bills in more details in an inquiry. They will ask the public for feedback on the bill.
  • Agreement in Principle - After scrutiny and inquiry stages are complete, the Assembly then debates and votes on whether they agree with a bill's general ideas. Bills need a majority of votes to pass.
  • Detail Stage - During the detail stage, members can go through a bill line-by-line and add, remove, or change the content. Each of these changes are voted on individually. If no changes are proposed, members can choose to move straight to a vote.
  • Agreement - members vote on whether they agree or disagree with the bill.
  • Proof - the bill's text is checked to make sure it is accurate.
  • Notification - the Speaker sends a letter to the Parliamentary Counsel's Office about the bill being passed. Once it is in the online law register, it has become a law.
  • A "no" vote can happen at any stage, the bill proceeds no further, bills can be recycled but not within the same calendar year.

Australia's three levels of government

Poster highlighting the separation of powers in the ACT

Print version of the poster (PDF 2.8MB)

Australia's three levels of government:

  • Australia's levels of government are like a big company building, with each level dealing with something different.
  • At the very top is federal government.
  • Further down are the state and territory governments.
  • And at the base of the building are the local governments.
  • The ACT is the only state or territory which combines both territory and local governments.

The separation of powers in the ACT

A poster detailing the separation of powers in the ACT

Print version of the poster (PDF 1.4MB)

The separation of powers in the ACT:

  • In Australia, the powers of government are split between three different branches. This separation of powers is an important part of the Westminster System and helps keep those who use power accountable.
  • The Legislature
    • The legislative branch is the ACT Legislative Assembly and it has the power to make and change laws for the ACT.
    • Our Legislative Assembly has 25 members, who are elected from the electorates across the ACT.
  • The Executive:
    • The executive branch is the Chief Minister and ministers, who have the power together to put laws into action.
    • In the ACT, the executive is only allowed to be as large as 9 members (that's 1 chief minister and up to 8 ministers).
  • The Judiciary:
    • The judicial branch is made up of the ACT law courts and tribunals and has the power to make judgements on laws.
    • There are many judges in the ACT judiciary, but did you know that they must retire at their 70th birthday?
  • This is not a complete separation of powers.
    • In Australia, members of the executive (ministers) must also be members of the legislature (MPs). This is a tradition inherited from the UK Parliament, where the Westminster Systems was developed.
    • This is different to other systems of government where executive members cannot also be legislature members, like in the United States of America.


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Page last updated on 1 November 2019
2015 Legislative Assembly for the ACT