Governance | Living in Brisbane - Visit Brisbane


Brisbane people


The Commonwealth of Australia is an independent Western democracy with three tiers of government – federal, state and local. In terms of governance, the nation’s institutions and practices reflect British and North American models but remain uniquely Australian.

Australia and Queensland

The Commonwealth of Australia is made up of six states and two mainland territories, with a system of government based on the liberal democratic tradition. The Federal Government is based on a popularly elected Parliament with two chambers – the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Australia has a written Constitution that sets out the functions of the Australian Government. As a constitutional monarchy, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is recognised as the head of state. Her representative in Australia is Governor-General Quentin Bryce. The Constitution gives the Federal Government power over defence, foreign affairs, trade and commerce, taxation, customs and excise duties, pensions, immigration and postal services.

State Governments each retain the power to make their own laws over matters not controlled by the Commonwealth. State Governments also have their own constitutions, as well as a structure of legislature, executive and judiciary.

The current Australian Prime Minister is Tony Abbott, and the current Premier of Queensland is Campbell Newman. All citizens aged 18 or older must vote in Federal, State and local elections.


Brisbane is one of the largest city councils in the Asia-Pacific region, and with an annual budget of $2.9 billion and an asset base of $21.6 billion1, it’s recognised as one of the top 150 corporations in Australia in terms of size of turnover and asset base. Brisbane City Council delivers core local government services including roads and infrastructure, bus and ferry services, environment protection and local parks, as well as neighbourhood planning. The current Lord Mayor of Brisbane is Graham Quirk.

For further information on Federal, State and local government visit the following websites:
Australian Government
Queensland Government
Brisbane City Council

1 Brisbane City Council, Annual Plan and Budget 2013-14