POPULATION: Census 2006: 19,855,288
AREA: 7,692,024 sq km
CURRENCY: Australian dollar AUD
LOCAL GOVERNMENT CONTRIBUTION TO GDP: 2.4%
HEAD OF STATE: HM Queen Elizabeth II
GOVERNOR-GENERAL: Quentin Bryce
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT: Prime Minister Julia Gillard
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional monarchy
PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM: bicameral
STATE STRUCTURE: federal – six states, two territories
LANGUAGE: English (official)
NATIONAL ELECTIONS: last: Aug 2010; turnout: 93.21%;
LOCAL ELECTIONS vary from state to state, see table 1a.
Australia is a constitutional monarchy with a federal division of power comprising six states and two territories. Local government is under the jurisdiction of each state and territory government, with each last reviewing their local government legislation between 1989 and 1999. The Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government is responsible for local government. There are 565 local governments in Australia, all of which are single-tiered. Local authorities raise about 80% of their own funds; however this proportion varies considerably from state to state and between larger urban and smaller rural authorities. Although there are variations between the states and territories, councils typically have statutory responsibility for local infrastructure, health, water and sewerage amenities, community services including child care, aged care, and recreation, cultural and educational establishments, and commercial establishments including parking, aerodromes, cemeteries and quarries.