Australia's legal system, and law enforcement organisations are heavily based on those used in England. The legal systems are virtually identical.

Courts in AustraliaEdit

Australia has separate State/Territory, and Commonwealth Court systems, but in all, the ultimate Court of Appeal is the High Court of Australia. Australia has Superior, and Inferior courts. Superior Courts are those which have, originally, unlimited jurisdiction to hear disputes and are the highest courts in their section of the Australia court hierarchy. They may hear disputes in all areas, and are only limited by legitimate legislation. Inferior Courts are those which are considered secondary to Superior Courts. Their existence is from legislation and their powers are the opposite of Superior Courts: they only have the power to decide on matters where parliament grants them the power to do so.

Commonwealth CourtsEdit

  • High Court of Australia
    • Constitutional matters
    • Appeals
  • Federal Court of Australia
    • Corporations
    • Trade practices
    • Industrial relations
    • Bankruptcy
    • Customs
    • Immigration
    • Other matters arising in Federal law
  • Family Court of Australia
    • Family law
  • Federal Magistrates' Court of Australia
    • Inferior court, intended to ease caseload of the Federal Court of Australia
  • Administrative Appeals Tribunal
    • Administrative decisions of the Commonwealth government

State/Territory CourtsEdit

Each state and territory has a Supreme Court, which is a superior court of record and is the highest court within that state or territory. These courts also have appeal divisions, known as the Full Court or Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court (in civil matters), or the Court of Criminal Appeal (in criminal matters). Each state has its own court heirarchy, usually with two levels. District (or County) Courts exercise jurisdiction for less serious criminal offences, or civil matters below a certain threshold (usually about $1 million). Magistrate's (or Local) Courts handle summary matters, and minor civil matters.

All of the external territories have Supreme Courts, and Courts of Petty Sessions, however these are required so infrequently that they are not permanently staffed, when required, staff are seconded from other courts, usually federal courts, of courts from adjacent states (for example, Norfolk Island courts tend to use staff from New South Wales).

  • Australian Capital Territory
    • Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory
    • Magistrates' Court of the Australian Capital Territory
  • New South Wales
    • Supreme Court of New South Wales
    • District Court of New South Wales
    • Magistrate's Court of New South Wales
  • New Zealand
    • Supreme Court of New Zealand
    • High Court of New Zealand
    • District Court of New Zealand
    • Family Court of New Zealand
    • Environment Court of New Zealand
  • Norfolk Island
    • Supreme Court of Norfolk Island
    • Norfolk Island Court of Petty Sessions
  • Northern Territory
    • Supreme Court of the Northern Territory
    • Magistrates' Court of the Northern Territory
  • Papua New Guinea
    • Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea
    • State Court of Papua New Guinea
    • Magistrate's Court of Papua New Guinea
  • Queensland
    • Supreme Court of Queensland
    • District Court of Queensland
    • Magistrates' Court of Queensland
  • South Australia
    • Supreme Court of South Australia
    • District Court of South Australia
    • Magistrates' Court of South Australia
  • Tasmania
    • Supreme Court of Tasmania
    • Magistrates' Court of Tasmania
  • Western Australia
    • Supreme Court of Western Australia
    • Family Court of Western Australia
    • District Court of Western Australia
    • Magistrates' Court of Western Australia

Military Justice SystemEdit

In 1982 the Federal Government introduced the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 (DFDA) as a part of Commonwealth law. This law became effective in 1985, and all ADF members are subject to it.

The purpose of the DFDA is to maintain and enforce military discipline.

The discipline system is necessary for ADF operational capability by dealing with offences that affect military discipline. This includes offences that are uniquely military and other offences that occur in a military environment.

Military courts handle specifically military matters as specified in the DFDA. All other criminal matters are handled by civlian courts. If they arise within Australia, the relevant court of the relevant state/territory is used. The Federal Court of Australia handles matters regarding ADF property, as well as any criminal matter arising overseas. The following courts exist in the ADF justice system:

  • General Court-Martial
  • Restricted Court-Martial
  • Defense Force Magistrate
  • Superior Summary Authority
  • Commanding Officer
  • Subordinate Summary Authority
  • Discipline Officer

(Relevant link) [1]

Crime and PunishmentEdit

Punishments for crimes very across Australian states and territories, and range from community service through various gaol terms to death. Capital punishment was reintroduced in Australia in 2001 by the Bjelke-Petersen government, after a conscience vote in Parliament, and a referendum. Capital Punishment is used in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Papua New Guinea. In addition, the Commonwealth uses it for high treason, treason, and espionage. The forms of capital punishment used in Australia are lethal injection and hanging. Mandatory sentencing is used in most Australian jurisdictions, but suspensions are possible for most offenses.

Below is a list of crimes and punishments that is used in most states (though none conforms exactly to the list)

  • Treason = Minimum: 5 years, Maximum: Death (High Treason); Minimum: 7 years gaol, Maximum: Death (Treason/Espionage)
  • Espionage (by a foreigner) = Minimum: 2 years gaol, Maximum: Death
  • First-degree murder = Minimum: 5 years gaol, Maximum: Death
  • Second-degree murder = Minimum: 2 years gaol, Maximum: Life
  • Manslaughter = Minimum: 2 years gaol, Maximum: 25 years gaol
  • Negligent homocide = Minimum: 1 year gaol, Maximum: 15 years gaol
  • Hit-and-run = Up to 7 years gaol, community service (non-fatality); As for manslaughter (fatality)
  • Tax evasion = Fines up to $25,000 plus amount in dispute to 3 years gaol
  • Shoplifting = Fines up to $25,000 plus amount in dispute to 3 years gaol
  • Pickpocketing = Fines up to $25,000 plus amount in dispute to 3 years gaol
  • Vandalism = Forced to clean/repair all damage, Fines up to $25,000 plus cleaning/repair costs, up to 3 years gaol for habitual offenders
  • Rape = Minimum: 7 years gaol, Maximum: Death
  • Non-rape sexual abuse = Minimum: 5 years gaol, Maximum: Life
  • Theft of private property = Up to 7 years gaol
  • Physical assault (no weapon) = Up to 10 years gaol
  • Assault with a deadly weapon = Up to 10 years gaol
  • Kidnapping = 25 Years to Life in gaol, Asset forfeiture/indentured servitude for medical costs (in the case of injury)
  • Leading/Inciting a riot = 4 years gaol
  • Participating in a riot = 1 year gaol
  • Breaking and entering = Up to 5 years gaol
  • Fraud = Fines, up to 10 years gaol
  • Non-sexual child abuse = Minimum: 2 years gaol, Maximum: Life
  • Animal abuse = Minimum: 6 months gaol, Maximum: Life
  • Bestialty = Minimum: 6 months gaol, Maximum: Life
  • Pedophilia = Minimum: 5 years gaol, Maximum: Life
  • Promoting public unrest/disorder = Minimum: 1 year gaol, Maximum: 7 years gaol
  • Littering = Fine of $50-300
  • Speeding = Fine of between $100-2000, plus suspension of license from 3 months, to life
  • Driving through a red light = Fine of between $300-2000, plus suspension of license from 3 months, to life
  • Indecent exposure = Fines, community service
  • Counterfeiting money = Up to 10 years gaol

Law EnforcementEdit

In Australia, most law enforcement is carried out at the State/Territory level, with each state, and most territories maintaining their own police forces. The Federal Government also maintains police forces for specific purposes.

Commonwealth Police ForcesEdit

The Commonwealth Government maintains police forces for specific purposes. The Commonwealth is also responsible for policing some territories. The departments maintaining police forces include the Attorney General's Department, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Department of Defence, and the Treasury.

The following police forces are under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth (listed by responsible Department):

Attorney General's DepartmentEdit

Australian Federal PoliceEdit

The Australian Federal Police is Australia's premier Commonwealth police force. It collaborates with all other Australian police forces, and international police forces. The Federal Police has several sub-organisations including the Australian Federal Police Protective Service, the Community Policing Division, and the Australian Capital Territory Police. The Federal Police also maintains a Polce Tactical Group, the Australian Federal Police Specialist Response and Security unit. The AFP has the following responsibliities.

  • Enforcement of Commonwealth law including
    • Drug smuggling
    • Organised people smuggling
    • Major fruad against the Commonwealth
    • "Cyber-crime"
    • Transnational crime, multijurisdictional crime
    • Money laundering
    • Organised crime
Community Policing Division/ACT PoliceEdit
  • Community policing in the following territories
    • Australian Capital Territory
    • Christmas Island
    • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
    • Coral Sea Islands Territory
    • Jervis Bay Territory
    • Norfolk Island
Australian Federal Police Protective ServiceEdit
  • Protection of government buildings, installations, and property
  • Protection of airports
  • Protection of Foreign Embassies, High Commissions, and Consulates in Australia
  • Protection of Australian Embassies, High Commissions, and Consulates overseas
  • Close protection of persons whose protection is deemed necessary by the Commonwealth

Australian Customs ServiceEdit

Managing the security and integrity of the Australian border, facilitating the movement of legitimate international travellers and goods, and collecting border related duties and tax's

Australian Crime CommissionEdit

Fighting nationally significant crime, and organised crime

Australian Commission for Law Enforcement IntegrityEdit

Fighting corruption, specifically in the AFP, and ACC

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and ForestryEdit

  • Australian Quarantine and Investigation Service

Department of the TreasuryEdit

  • Australian Securities and Investments Commission

Department of DefenceEdit

  • Royal Australian Corps of Military Police (Army)
    • Responsible for security of Army establishments, field security, POW's, traffic control, counter-intelligence, criminal law enforcement, and forensic investigation on Army establishments, and in the field with Army units.
  • Royal Australian Air Force Security Police (Air Force)
    • Responsible for security of RAAF bases, criminal law enforcement on RAAF bases, and forensic investigation.
  • Naval Police Coxswains (Royal Australian Navy)
    • Responsible for criminal law enforcement on RAN shore establishments and ships, Whole Ship Coordination, assisting local law enforcement during foreign shore visits

Military Aid to the Civil PowerEdit

The ability of the ADF to grant aid to the "civil power" is defined in legislation. In simple terms, the ADF is not a domestic police force, and should not be used inside Australia in a law enforcement role. Due to the significant civil liberties concerns in the use of Military Aid to the Civil Power, its use is extremely limited, and procedures are strictly outlined in legislation. The legal basis of military aid to the civil power is the basic duty of all the Queen's Subjects to maintain the Queen's peace.

Inside Australia, the relevant State, or Territory Cabinet or responsible Minister must initiate a request to the Commonwealth for military assistance, and then the Commonwealth Cabinet must approve the request before any action is initiated by the ADF. The State/Territory onsite Police commander retains jurisdiction. The Federal Executive Council must be satisfied that the State/Territory cannot handle the incident in question due to either its magnitude (i.e. mass riots), its nature (i.e. a chemical attack requiring the Incident Response Regiment), or the financial inability of the State/Territory to provide its own capabilities.

Some ADF units are maintained specifically for aiding the civil power, these include the three Tactical Assault Groups, which are Australia's last ditch counter-terrorist teams, and the Incident Response Regiment.

Commonwealth ministers can request Defence assistance for the AFP, and other Commonwealth police agencies.

Australia's coastline is protected by the Navy, which performs a partial customs role. This is not regarded as Defence assistance to the civil power because the RAN in these instances is exercising/protecting Australian national soverignty, and not policing the Australian public. The RAN has no jurisdiction to board Australian flag ships without a Police presence, a warrant, an obvious sign that there is trouble, or an invitation from the vessel's owner or Captain. Foreign flag ships may be boarded without restriction in Australian waters.

Military Aid to the Civil CommunityEdit

Unique Defence capabilities can help to serve the civilian community, the RAN and RAAF can perform search and rescue missions at sea. The ADF's large helicopter inventory (the largest in Australia) has myriad potential civil uses. The ability of the Defence Force to muster large numbers of personnel, and aircraft aid in land search and rescue missions, and its extensive, and deployable emergency medical facilities can help in natural disasters.

Because the ADF is not used in a police role, the procedures are far less strict, and revolve around financial considerations. In most cases, the state/territory requesting assistance must pay the majority of the cost.

In addition to this, ADF members are sometimes used to help charitable causes, particularly those associated with returned servicemen

State and Territory Police ForcesEdit

Each State as well as the Northern Territory is responsible for maintaining its own police force which is responsible for policing at the state and local level. This involves general law and order, traffic policing, major crime, anti-terrorism branches, water police, search and rescue and in some states transit police. State police agencies also assist the Australian Federal Police. Local policing in the Australian Capital Territory, Jervis Bay Territory and Australia's external territories is contracted to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

In some states, local governments employ by-laws officers or rangers to enforce local by-laws or ordinances relating to such matters as parking, dog ownership, retailing, littering or water usage. These local government officers are not considered to be police forces as they generally only have the power to issue fines and do not have the same powers as state police. They may rely upon appointment as a Special Constable or legislated powers for their authority.

All Australian Police forces follow Peelian Principles, which are laid out in the various Police Acts.

These Principles are:

  • Every police officer should be issued a badge number, to assure accountability for his actions.
  • Whether the police are effective is not measured on the number of arrests, but on the lack of crime.
  • Above all else, an effective authority figure knows trust and accountability are paramount.
  1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to provide an ordered response to specific acts of crime and disorder.
  2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.
  3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
  4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
  5. Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
  6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.
  7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
  8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
  9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

The following state and territory police forces operate in Australia

  • New South Wales Police Force
  • New Zealand Police
  • Northern Territory Police
  • Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary
  • Queensland Police Force
  • South Australia Police
  • Tasmanian Police
  • Victoria Police
  • Western Australia Police

All state and territory police forces have Police Tactical Groups fit into a National Counter Terrorist Operations Plan

The Police Tactical Groups are as follows:

  • Victoria Police Special Operations Group
  • New South Wales Police Force State Protection Group
  • South Australia Police Special Tasks and Rescue
  • Western Australia Police Tactical Response Group
  • Special Emergency Response Team (Queensland)
  • Northern Territory Police Territory Response Group
  • Special Operations Group of the Tasmania Police
  • New Zealand Police Special Tactics Group
  • Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary Tactical Response Unit

Equipment and WeaponsEdit

With the exception of the Department of Defence's police agencies (which use ADF standard equipment), most Australian police forces use similar, or identical equipment. All Australian police officers are armed on duty, and officers frequently carry carbines, and shotguns. Pistol caliber carbines are increasingly popular for urban situatios in which over-penetration is common. A variety of 5.56mm, and pistol caliber carbines are used. Only Victoria, and South Australia issue revolvers


  • Glock 22, 23, 27 .40S&W pistol
  • Smith and Wesson Model 10 .38 Special revolver (Victoria)
  • Smith and Wesson Model 19 and 66 .357 Magnum revolver (South Australia)
  • Glock 17, 19, 26 9mm pistol (Tasmania, New Zealand, Police Tactical Groups, Customs)
  • Browning L9A1 9mm pistol (ADF)
  • F88C-Police 5.56mm semi automatic carbine
  • Ruger Mini-14 (Western Australia)
  • HK UMP40-SF
  • HK MP5/40SF (Western Australia, Papua New Guinea)
  • MP5SFA3 (Tasmania, New Zealand)
  • AR-15 SP1 5.56mm semi-automatic rifle (PNG)
  • AR-15A2 Government 5.56mm semi-automatic rifle (New South Wales)
  • AR-15A2 Government Carbine 5.56mm semi-automatic carbine (New South Wales)
  • HK MP5A5/MP5SD6 (Police Tactical Groups)
  • M16A1 5.56mm assault rifle (PNG}
  • M16A3 5.56mm assault rifle (Customs)
  • M4A5 5.56mm automatic carbine (Police Tactical Groups)
  • F88 Austeyr 5.56mm assault rifle (ADF, Police Tactical Groups)
  • F89 Minimi 5.56mm light machine gun (ADF)
  • MAG-58 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (ADF, Customs)
  • M2 QCHB 12.7mm Heavy Machine Gun (ADF, Customs)
  • Remington 870 12ga shotgun
  • Ithaca 37 12ga shotgun (New Zealand)
  • Benelli M3 12ga shotgun (Queensland)
  • Mossberg 500 12ga shotgun (Western Autralia)
  • KAC Masterkey (Police Tactical Groups)

Other equipmentEdit

  • Expandable Baton
  • Handcuffs
  • Radios
  • OC Spray
  • Tasers (Queensland, and NSW only)
  • Mobile Data Terminals


  • Ford Falcon
  • Holden Commodore
  • Toyota Aurion
  • Holden Rodeo
  • Toyota Hilux
  • Nissan Patrol
  • Landrover Perentie (ADF)
  • Landrover 110 Defender
  • Ford Falcon Ute (as a caged truck)
  • Holden Ute (as a caged truck)
  • BMW Motorcycles (road)
  • Suzuki Motorcycles (off road)


Australia's self-defence, and firearm legislation is among the most liberal in the world. All Australians have the right to use force to defend themselves, their families, and their homes. Should a criminal be injured or killed by someone defending himself, or defending another, the criminal (or his relatives) have no legal recourse whatsoever. An attempt to bring a suit against someone defending himself or another will in all cases be dismissed, with the criminal forced to pay all costs.

Australians have the right to keep and bear any weapons which are useful in the defence of an individual. This in practice means the following:

  • Pistols
  • Rifles and carbines
  • Sub-machine guns
  • Shotguns
  • Automatic rifles
  • Light Machine Guns
  • General Purpose Machine Guns

Australians must obtain permission to own other types of weapons, and explosive/incendiary ammunition. Nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons are banned.

Australia's gun laws were liberalised in 1993, and Australia has seen the greatest boom in the firearms market in its history. Australian Defence Industries Lithgow leads the market for domestically produced weapons, with versions of its F88 Austeyr sold for as little as $1000 new. Due to popular demand, ADI Lithgow resumed production of the L1A1 SLR. Australian Government surplus weapons are also popular, and inexpensive.

People convicted of a felony are not allowed to own firearms unless they have for five years after release not committed any crime. After that, they are permitted possession and use of a firearm for home defence, and sporting. They may not carry a firearm in the street, or anywhere else outside their homes.

Australians are allowed to form "Community Defence Militias" consisting of local residents patrolling a community to supplement the police. They are required to register with the Commonwealth government, and the local police. They are also forbidden to wear DPCU, DPDU, and DPNU while working unless clear distinguishing marks are worn showing that the wearers are not members of the ADF, or a Police Tactical Unit.