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Chamber of the ACT Legislative Assembly

Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly (formally, the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory) is the unicameral legislature of the Australian Capital Territorymarker (ACT). It sits in the Legislative Assembly Buildingmarker located on Civic Square, close to the centre of the citymarker of Canberramarker.

It was created by four acts of the Commonwealth Parliament in 1988, including the Australian Capital Territory Act 1988. The first election was held on 4 March 1989 and the assembly first sat on 11 May that year. Until this point, the ACT had been directly administered by the Commonwealth Government. It replaced the House of Assemblymarker (also known for a period as the Legislative Assembly), which existed from 1976 to 1986, but had no executive power, with a principal function of advising the Commonwealth on matters relating to the Territory.

The Legislative Assembly has 17 members, elected for four-year terms by the Hare-Clark system, a variation of the Single Transferable Vote form of proportional representation. The 17 members come from three constituencies - Brindabella and Ginninderra, which have five members, and Molonglo, which has seven members. The Assembly was originally elected by a modified d'Hondt system, but a 1992 referendum supported the Hare-Clark method, and this was introduced in 1993.

Members of the Legislative Assembly vote to elect a Chief Minister - in practice, the leader of whichever party can form government. The Chief Minister, in turn, selects up to five ministers to form a cabinet. The leader of the second-largest party in the assembly usually becomes the Leader of the Opposition.

The ACT is unique among Australian states and territories, as it has no vice-regal post exercising authority as the representative of the Head of State, such as a a Governor or an Administrator. Instead, the functions of the head of the Executive – commissioning government, proroguing parliament and enacting legislation – are exercised by the Assembly itself and by the Chief Minister. Instead of vice-regal or regal assent, a Bill passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly is enacted on ‘notification’ – publication of a notice authorised by the Chief Minister, in the Government Gazette.

Election dates for the Assembly are fixed in legislation, with elections held in October every four years. Elections are always held on Saturdays. Until 1997, elections were held in February. They are now held in October. The term of the Assembly was increased in 2004 from three to four years.

As with the Northern Territory Legislative Assemblymarker, the ACT Assembly lacks the full powers of a state legislature. As a result, legislation passed by the Assembly can be overruled by a Commonwealth act of Parliament or by the Governor-General acting on the advice of the Commonwealth government. Although this is rare in practice, the Civil Unions Act, which allowed same-sex couples to enter into "civil unions" was overruled following concerns that the civil unions mimicked marriage. In July 2006, the federal Government again threatened the ACT Stanhope Government to overrule its anti-terror legislation, which was not consistent with other state laws. The Commonwealth also retained control of the Territory's justice system until handing it over to the Assembly in 1992. The Assembly assumes many of the functions of a local council, as it covers such a small area, and the city of Canberra has no other local government.

Current distribution of seats

[[Image:ACT legislative assembly electorates.png|thumb|Location of the electorates;


Australian Capital Territory general election, 2008
Electorate Seats held
Molonglo (7)              
Ginninderra (5)          
Brindabella (5)          

See also


External links

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