Australian Capital Territory (ACT) (formerly, "The Territory for the Seat of Government" and, later, the "Federal Capital Territory") is a territory in the south east of Australia, enclaved within New South Wales. It is the smaller of the two self-governing internal territories in Australia. The only city and by far the most populous community is Canberra, the capital city of Australia.
The need for a national territory was flagged by colonial delegates during the Federation conventions of the late 19th century. Section 125 of theAustralian Constitution provided that, following Federation in 1901, land would be ceded freely to the new Federal Government. The territory was transferred to the Commonwealth by the state of New South Wales in 1911, two years prior to the naming of Canberra as the national capital in 1913. The floral emblem of the ACT is the Royal Bluebell and the bird emblem is the Gang-gang Cockatoo.
The ACT is bounded by the Goulburn-Coomarailway line in the east, the watershed of Naas Creek in the south, the watershed of the Cotter River in the west, and the watershed of theMolonglo River in the north-east. The ACT also has a small strip of territory around the southern end of the Beecroft Peninsula, which is the northern headland of Jervis Bay.
Apart from the city of Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory also contains agricultural land (sheep, dairy cattle, vineyards and small amounts of crops) and a large area of national park (Namadgi National Park), much of it mountainous and forested. Small townships and communities located within the ACT include Williamsdale, Naas, Uriarra, Tharwa and Hall.
Tidbinbilla is a locality to the south-west of Canberra that features theTidbinbilla Nature Reserve and the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, operated by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of its Deep Space Network.
There are a large range of mountains, rivers and creeks in the Namadgi National Park. These include the Naas and Murrumbidgee Rivers.
The ACT has internal self-government, but Australia's Constitution does not afford the territory government the full legislative independence provided to Australian states. Laws are made in a 17-member Legislative Assembly that combines both state and local government functions.
Members of the Legislative Assembly are elected via the Hare Clarke system. The ACT Chief Minister (currently Andrew Barr, Australian Labor Party) is elected by members of the ACT Assembly. The ACT Government Chief Minister is a member of the Council of Australian Governments.
Unlike other self-governing Australian territories (for example, the Northern Territory), the ACT does not have an Administrator. The Crown is represented by the Australian Governor-General in the government of the ACT. Until 4 December 2011, the decisions of the assembly could be overruled by the Governor-General (effectively by the national government) under section 35 of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988, although the federal parliament voted in 2011 to abolish this veto power, instead requiring a majority of both houses of the federal parliament to override an enactment of the ACT. The Chief Minister performs many of the roles that a state governor normally holds in the context of a state; however, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly gazettes the laws and summons meetings of the Assembly.
In Australia's Federal Parliament, the ACT is represented by four federal members: two members of the House of Representatives; the Division of Fraser and the Division of Canberra and is one of only two territories to be represented in the Senate, with two Senators (the other being the Northern Territory). The Member for Fraser and the ACT Senators also represent the constituents of the Jervis Bay Territory.
In 1915 the Jervis Bay Territory Acceptance Act 1915 created the Jervis Bay Territory as an annexe to the Australian Capital Territory. In 1988, when the ACT gained self-government, Jervis Bay became a separate territory administered by the Australian Government Minister responsible for Territories, presently the Minister for Home Affairs.
The ACT retains a small area of territory on the coast on the Beecroft Peninsula, consisting of a strip of coastline around the northern headland of Jervis Bay (not to be confused with the Jervis Bay Territory, which is on the southern headland of the Bay). The ACT's land on the Beecroft Peninsula is an "exclave", that is, an area of territory not physically connected to the main part of the ACT. Interestingly, this ACT exclave surrounds a small exclave of NSW territory, namely the Point Perpendicular lighthouse which is at the southern tip of the Beecroft Peninsula. The lighthouse and its grounds are New South Wales territory, but cut off from the rest of the state by the strip of ACT land. This is a geographic curiosity: an exclave of NSW land enclosed by an exclave of ACT land.
In the 2011 census the population of the ACT was 357,222 of whom most lived in Canberra. The ACT median weekly income for people aged over 15 was in the range $600–$699 while that for the population living outside Canberra was at the national average of $400–$499. The average level of degree qualification in the ACT is higher than the national average. Within the ACT 4.5% of the population have a postgraduate degree compared to 1.8% across the whole of Australia.
Almost all educational institutions in the Australian Capital Territory are located within Canberra. The ACT public education system schooling is normally split up into Pre-School, Primary School (K-6), High School (7–10) and College (11–12) followed by studies at university or CIT (Canberra Institute of Technology). Many private high schools include years 11 and 12 and are referred to as colleges. Children are required to attend school until they turn 17 under the ACT Government's "Learn or Earn" policy.
In February 2004 there were 140 public and non-governmental schools in Canberra; 96 were operated by the Government and 44 are non-Government. In 2005 there were 60,275 students in the ACT school system. 59.3% of the students were enrolled in government schools with the remaining 40.7% in non-government schools. There were 30,995 students in primary school, 19,211 in high school, 9,429 in college and a further 340 in special schools.
As of May 2004, 30% of people in the ACT aged 15–64 had a level of educational attainment equal to at least a bachelor's degree, significantly higher than the national average of 19%. The two main tertiary institutions are the Australian National University (ANU) in Acton and the University of Canberra (UC) in Bruce. There are also two religious university campuses in Canberra: Signadou is a campus of the Australian Catholic University and St Mark's Theological College is a campus of Charles Sturt University. Tertiary level vocational education is also available through the multi-campus Canberra Institute of Technology.
The Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and the Royal Military College, Duntroon (RMC) are in the suburb ofCampbell in Canberra's inner northeast. ADFA teaches military undergraduates and postgraduates and is officially a campus of the University of New South Wales while Duntroon provides Australian Army Officer training.
The Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) offers courses in computer game development and 3D animation.