How many states in Australia?



Colored section of an map, identifying the states of Australia
The colored area represents the 6 States of Australia



Colored section of an map, identifying the territories of Australia
The colored area represents the 3 mainland Territories of Australia

How many states in Australia? There are officially 6 states in Australia, but it’s a little more complicated than that.  They include: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

If your wondering where the missing parts of Australia are, there classed as Territories. The two most well known mainland Territories are the Australian Capital Territory and the  Northern Territory, which have limited rights of self governance compared to states. Most people however consider the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory to be states because of their relatively large population sizes.  

There are then seven other territories which are governed by the Australian Commonwealth. These are the Ashmore and cartier Island, Australian Antarctic Territory ,Christmas Island , Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Jervis Bay Territory and the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands. These territories are ran by an appointed Government Administrator.     

State Vs Territory

The main difference between a state and a territory is that a territory has less power to make its own laws, whereas states can do so more freely.


Example of power difference of States and Territories

For example in 1997 the Australian government  nullified the “Right of the Terminally ill Act of 1995” which made it legal for voluntary euthanasia in the Northern Territory. This would not have been possible if the NT was a state. The same discussion is now happening in the state of Victoria where they may decide to legalise the act as soon as 2019. If this happens the Federal government, will not so easily be able to nullify the newly implement law.


History of the States and Territories in Australia

Prior to the creation of the Australia Commonwealth, Australia was split into 6 collines which were closely controlled by Great Britain. When the Australian Commonwealth was formed some of the vast land masses were not claimed by any of the states. The land was then classed a Territory.

Before the formation of the Australian Federation (Before 1901)

After the formation of the Australian Federation (Before 1901)

  • Woman didn’t have a right to vote
  • An Australian Flag was created and flown officially for the first time
  • You needed immigration papers (Passport) to travel between the colonial sections of Australia
  • The Commonwealth of Australia was formed and six states proclaimed
  • Australia was considered a colony of the British empire  
  • Cross border trade tariffs were scrapped
  • The different colonial sections fought over land and had their own armies
  • Women began to have more rights and started to work
  • Each colonial section had its own postal service and stamp
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders still had limited rights and were heavily discriminated

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Why isn't the Northern Territory a state?


Australian Government – –

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