Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952415 | Print ISBN: 9780761926498 | Online ISBN: 9781412952415| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Australia is an island country of approximately 20 million people located in the Southeast Asian region of the southern hemisphere. Previously an English colony, Australia achieved independence in 1901 and consists of a federation divided into six states—Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia—and two Territories—The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Northern Territory. The division of legislative power and administrative responsibility between the federal and state parliaments is governed by the Australian Constitution, with the head of state being the British monarch. As a former English colony, the Australian legal system is based on English common law with the High Court—located in the federal capital, Canberra—serving as the final court of appeal for both the federal and state courts. In Australia, the vast majority of policing functions are undertaken at the local level by the relevant state and territory police services, with the exception of ...