Law in the Northern Territory (NT) needs to be understood in light of the history of the territory's governance. The Northern Territory became self-governing in 1978. Before that time, the territory was not able to pass its own laws. Laws in the NT between 1911 and 1978 were made by federal (Commonwealth) Acts, or by Ordinances made by the Governor-General. Before 1911, the territory was the Northern Territory of South Australia, and its laws were made by the Colony and State of South Australia.
From 1863 until 1911, the territory was known as the Northern Territory of South Australia, the area having been annexed to the Colony of South Australia by the British Government. In 1911, responsibility for the Northern Territory of Australia was transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia. From 1927 to 1931, the territory was divided at the 20th parallel into two regions, North and Central. Both were administered by the Commonwealth with a Government Resident based in each region. The two regions recombined as the Northern Territory in June 1931. The Northern Territory was administered by the Commonwealth of Australia until 1978, when it became a self-governing territory.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 15 May 2014