The Australian Capital Territory is a National Parliament

The Australian Capital Territory is a National Parliament

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Sandy Maynard (left), with a supporter, talks with Scott Morrison (right) at a rally in the lead up to the Federal Election on Saturday, in Sydney’s marginal south-west seat of Macquarie. (AAP)

The Greens senator for the Australian Capital Territory has been a strong supporter of Senate reform.

The idea that a national system that places power in the hands of regional and state governments and local councils is undesirable is not a new one.

But Greens senator Scott Ludlam was frank about it in 2007, arguing at a Senate Committee hearing in Melbourne the federal government should “stop trying to create an unaccountable parliament with limited powers”.

“I think it is time we stop creating a parliamentary structure that is too unwieldy and too top-down,” the Tasmanian said.

“Our model is a national parliament with state and local power, and while I am not a fan of federal government having the power to have control over state and local governments, I will be pleased if that’s where the federal parliament ends up.”

So, Mr Ludlam, a party treasurer, is not a fan of the system. But it does have a system.

Under our federal parliamentary system, states and territories — both our federating units — retain all parliamentary responsibilities for the Commonwealth, and no responsibility for their own state or territory parliament, unlike in the United States.

Our elected parliamentarians — including the Greens — are also more directly accountable to the voters who put them there, unlike a largely appointed US Congress.

This model is a compromise between the federal government and the states.

It is a compromise because states and territories are more directly responsible for their political destiny. State government can be as dysfunctional or dysfunctional as the federal government.

Our Australian Capital Territory contains seven states, which have their own parliaments and governments.

As a result they have control over their own budgets, laws, taxation, spending and even their own referendums.

In the case of the Australian Capital Territory, they also have power over their own national parks, as well as the authority to make laws on their own behalf for things like mining, water usage and building codes and construction regulations.

The ACT also has powers in the area of health and medical regulation.

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