Devolution

Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to govern at a subnational level, such as a regional or local level.[1] It is a form of administrative decentralization. Devolved territories have the power to make legislation relevant to the area and thus granting them a higher level of autonomy.[2]

Devolution differs from federalism in that the devolved powers of the subnational authority may be temporary and are reversible, ultimately residing with the central government. Thus, the state remains de jure unitary.[3] Legislation creating devolved parliaments or assemblies can be repealed or amended by central government in the same way as any statute. In federal systems, by contrast, sub-unit government is guaranteed in the constitution, so the powers of the sub-units cannot be withdrawn unilaterally by the central government (i.e. without the consent of the sub-units being granted through the process of constitutional amendment). The sub-units therefore have a lower degree of protection under devolution than under federalism.[4]

Australia

Australia is a federation. It has six states and two territories with less power than states.

The Australian Capital Territory refused self-government in a 1978 referendum, but was given limited self-government by a House of Assembly from 1979, and a Legislative Assembly with wider powers in 1988.

The Northern Territory of Australia refused statehood in a 1998 referendum. The rejection was a surprise to both the Australian and Northern Territory governments.

Territory legislation can be disallowed by the Commonwealth Parliament in Canberra, with one notable example being the NT's short lived voluntary euthanasia legislation.