Levels of Government


The decision-making body in NSW is the Parliament of NSW. It is made up of the Legislative Assembly (Lower House) and the Legislative Council (Upper House)

The Parliament of NSW makes laws on matters that typically affect the day-to-day lives of NSW residents such as:

  • law and order
  • schools and hospitals
  • roads and railways
  • housing
  • community services


The decision-making body at local government level is called 'the council'. Each council is established under state legislation to look after the particular needs of a city or local community.  The representatives on councils are called councillors and the head of the council is the mayor.

Local government areas vary greatly in size and character and can consist of a group of suburbs, a town or a rural area. They are often divided into several wards, with electors in each ward electing a number of councillors.

Each council has a charter that sets out principles to guide the way it provides appropriate community services and facilities. These include:

  • local roads, footpaths and gutters
  • libraries and public halls
  • sporting facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and golf courses
  • public land such as parks and other recreation areas
  • household garbage and recycling collections


The decision-making body at federal government level is the Parliament of Australia made up of the House of Representatives (Lower House) and the Senate (Upper House).

The Australian Constitution lists those areas for which the Parliament of Australia has responsibility including:

  • defence
  • taxation
  • foreign relations
  • immigration
  • communications