What does Local Government even do, and why should I care?

Government closest to the community

Local Government is the most immediate, and often the most visible, form of government. It makes decisions that are specifically tailored to their local community.

Local Government is diverse

Size: The size of local governments ranges from less than 1.5 to over 370,000 square kilometres.

Population: The populations of local government districts range from under 100 to more than 220,000.

Staff: The number of staff employed in each local government varies from fewer than 10 to over 1000.

Local governments are categorised as either:

Shires, which are generally local governments with mainly rural populations.

Towns, which are generally small (mainly urban) population centres; or
Cities, with larger urban population centres.

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Providing good government

So, what does Local Government have the power to do?

Legislative function

A local government can make a local law for the good governance of the people in its district, for issues including health and safety, street trading, reserves and foreshores, signs, parking, cats and dogs, meeting procedures, and more.

Local Government laws cannot contradict laws on a higher level of government, such as state and federal laws.

Executive function

A local government can provide any service or facility that is necessary or convenient for the good governance of the people in its district, as long as it is not already provided by the state and/or federal government. This includes recreation centres, libraries, parks, function spaces, sporting grounds, arts and cultural centres, and more.

Contemporary issues

The role of Local Government remainds flexible to best meet and cater to the needs of its specific community. They have the freedom to make decisions for their communities, promote public participation, and demand accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness in local government.

Embedded in the community

Local Government is divided into elected and non-elected members.

Elected governing body

The council is made up of 15 elected councillors, and is led by the mayor. Ordinary council elections are held every 2 years.

Administrative body

Local Government also employs non-elected administrative staff, led by a CEO. The staff are tasked with carrying out day-to-day operations, and implementing council policies and decisions.

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