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In the self-governing territories, the Australian Parliament retains the full power to legislate, and can override laws made by the territorial institutions, which it has done on rare occasions.

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All are directly administered by the federal Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities (or the Department of the Environment and Energy in the case of the Australian Antarctic Territory).

Norfolk Island, which is permanently populated, was partially self-governing until 2015.

A decision of a state judiciary is subject to appeal to a federal court.

There are also ten territories, whose existence and governmental structure (if any) depend on federal legislation.

Government in the Commonwealth of Australia is exercised on three levels: federal, states and territories, and local government.

There are six states: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.

Upon Federation, the six colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania became the founding states of the new Commonwealth of Australia.

Legislative powers of the states are protected by the Australian constitution, section 107, and under the principle of federalism, Commonwealth legislation only applies to the states where permitted by the constitution.

The Papua and New Guinea Act 1949 placed the Territory of New Guinea in an "administrative union" with the Territory of Papua.

The Territory of Papua and New Guinea was eventually given independence as Papua New Guinea in 1975. The states originated as separate British colonies prior to Federation in 1901.

Uninhabited Heard and Mc Donald Island is treated as constitutionally part of Australia by the central government.