Why should I enrol to vote?
It is important to enrol to vote as it allows you to have a say in:
- who will represent you at federal, state and local government levels; and
- how you and your community are governed.
You cannot vote if you have not enrolled, and you may be fined for not doing so.
How to enrol
You should ensure your enrolment details are always current. To enrol to vote or change your name or address after 28 days at a new residence, complete an electoral enrolment form for federal, state and local government elections.
In most circumstances, you can enrol to vote or update your enrolment online at www.aec.gov.au or you can obtain a form and prepaid envelope from post offices or an Australian Electoral Commissions (AEC) office.
The form may be returned by post, fax, email or hand delivered to an AEC office.
Once processed, the AEC will send you an acknowledgment advice. This provides details of your:
- name as it appears on the roll
- federal electoral division
- state electoral district
- local government area
If you do not receive your advice within 4 weeks you should contact the AEC via email email@example.com or phone 13 23 26.
Why we have elections
All Australians, who are eligible to vote, choose people to represent them at 3 levels of government. Each level is run by a parliament or council, made up of representatives elected by the people. Each has different areas of responsibility in making decisions for all of us.
Who decides who is in government?
Once the results are known at state and federal elections, the political party or coalition of parties that has the most members elected becomes the governing party.
To remain in office a state or federal government must keep the support of a majority of Members in the Lower House.
Levels of government
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.
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
- community services
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 areas for which the Parliament of Australia has responsibility include: defence, taxation, foreign relations, immigration, and communications.