Three levels of Government

In Australia we have three levels of Government: federal, state and local. The power is shared between these three levels.

The Federal  Parliament has only certain, limited powers given to it by the Australian Constitution. These powers include:

  • Defence
  • Trade
  • Foreign affairs
  • Immigration
  • Postal, telephone and other communication services
  • Lighthouses
  • Quarantine
  • Currency
  • Bankruptcy
  • Copyright
  • Marriage and divorce
  • Invalid and old-age pensions.

The federal Parliament has exclusive jurisdiction in a small number of areas. Most powers, however, are shared and both the Federal and State Parliaments are able to make laws for these matters.  If there is conflicting law, the federal law takes precedence.

In Victoria, the State Parliament, is responsible for:

  • Law and order
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Water
  • Transport
  • Agriculture
  • Forests.

The Local Government Act 1989 defines the powers of local government in Victoria. Local governments look after local issues such as building regulations, waste management, parks and gardens and dog control.

Power is often shared between all three levels of government. Some examples where governance is shared are roads, environmental management and public health.