Local government in Australia

Local government in Australia is the third tier of government in Australia administered by the states and territories, which in turn are beneath the federal tier.[1] Local government is not mentioned in the Constitution of Australia and two referenda in the 1970s and 1980s to alter the Constitution relating to local government were unsuccessful.[2] Every state government recognises local government in their respective constitutions.[3] Unlike Canada or the United States, there is only one level of local government in each state, with no distinction such as cities and counties.

The local governing body is generally referred to as a council, and the territories governed are collectively referred to as "local government areas"; however, terms such as "city" or "shire" also have a geographic interpretation. In August 2016 there were 547 local councils in Australia.[4]

Despite the single level of local government in Australia, there are a number of extensive areas with relatively low populations which are not a part of any local government area. Powers of local governments in these areas may be exercised by special purpose bodies established outside the general legislation, as with Victoria's alpine resorts, or directly by state governments. The area covered by local councils in Australia ranges from as small as 1.5 km2 (0.58 sq mi) for the Shire of Peppermint Grove in metropolitan Perth, to the Shire of East Pilbara in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, which covers 380,000 km2 (150,000 sq mi), an area larger than Germany or Japan.

State controlled

Local government in Australia is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the states or territories. The functions and practices of local government councils are similar throughout Australia, but may vary to some degree between jurisdictions.

The Australian Capital Territory is not divided into territory and local government.

State departments oversee local government councils and may intervene in their affairs, subject to relevant legislation.[5]

Local governments by type and state

Australian local government areas
Local government areas in Australia
SydneyTownHall gobeirne
Offices of the City of Sydney council, a local government area within Sydney
Melbourne Town Hall-Collins Street
Melbourne Town Hall, the offices of the City of Melbourne council

As of January 2017, the following table provides a summary of local government areas by states and territories by local government area types:

Local government area types NSW Vic Qld WA SA Tas NT Total
Boroughs 1 1
Cities 28 33 7 29 21 6 2 126
Councils 28 15 43
District councils 25 25
Municipalities 6 23 3 32
Regional councils 8 4 12
Rural cities 6 1 7
Shires 58 39 27 104 3 231
Towns 1 8 2 11
Aboriginal councils 5 5
Aboriginal shires 12 12
Region 31 9 40
Sub-total 128 79 78 141 73 29 17 545
Unincorporated 2 10 1 5 18
Total 130 89 78 141 74 29 22 563

Classification

The Australian Classification of Local Governments (ACLG) categorises Australian local governing authorities using the population, the population density and the proportion of the population that is classified as urban for the council.[6] The classification, at the two-digit level, is:

  • RA – Rural Agricultural
  • RS – Rural Significant
  • RT – Rural Remote
  • UC – Urban Capital
  • UD – Urban Developed
  • UF – Urban Fringe
  • UR – Urban Regional

History

There is no mention of local government in the Constitution of Australia, though it is mentioned several times in the Annotated Constitution of Australia[7][8] namely where "Municipal institutions and local government" appears in Annotation 447, "Power of the Parliament of a Colony" under "Residuary Legislative Powers" on pages 935 and 936.

The first official local government in Australia was the Perth Town Trust, established in 1838, only three years after British settlement.[2] The Adelaide Corporation followed, created by the province of South Australia in October 1840. The City of Melbourne and the Sydney Corporation followed, both in 1842.[2][9] All of these early forms failed; it was not until the 1860s and 1870s that the various colonies established widespread stable forms of local government, mainly for the purpose of raising money to build roads in rural and outer-urban regions. Council representatives attended conventions before Federation, however local government was unquestionably regarded as outside the Constitutional realm.[2]

In the 1970s, the Whitlam Government expanded the level of funding to local governments in Australia beyond grants for road construction. General purpose grants become available for the first time.[10]

Reforms

Significant reforms took place in the 1980s and 1990s in which state governments used metrics and efficiency analysis developed within the private sector in the local government arena. Each state conducted an inquiry into the benefits of council amalgamations during the 1990s.[11] In the early 1990s, Victoria saw the number of local councils reduced from 210 to 78.[11] South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland saw some reductions in the number of local governments while Western Australia and New South Wales rejected compulsory mergers. New South Wales eventually forced the merging of some councils. The main purpose of amalgamating councils was for greater efficiency and to improve operations, but forced amalgamation of councils is sometimes seen as a dilution of representative democracy.[11]

An increase in the range of services offered by councils, but only minor cost savings of less than 10% have been noted by academics as outcomes after mergers. The council mergers have resulted in widespread job losses and lingering resentment from some whose roles have experienced a larger workload.[11]

The growth of the Regional Organisations of Councils has also been a factor in local government reform in Australia.[11] In 1995, there were 50 such agreements across the country. A 2002 study identified 55 ROCs with the largest involving 18 councils.[11]

Types of local government

Local governments are subdivisions of the states and the Northern Territory. The Australian Capital Territory has no separate local governments; and functions in Canberra and the surrounding area normally performed by state and local governments are performed there by the territorial government of the Australian Capital Territory.

Although they are all essentially identical in function, Australian local governments have a variety of names. The term "local government area" is used to refer collectively to all local governments regardless of status, whilst the local governing body itself is generally known as a council. Today, the styles "borough", "city", "district", "municipality", "region", "shire", "town", "community government", "Aboriginal shire" and "Island" are used in addition to areas/councils without a specific style.

In general, an urban or suburban LGA is called a city, as in the City of Canada Bay or City of Bunbury, and is governed by a City Council. A rural LGA covering a larger rural area is usually called a shire, as in Shire of Mornington Peninsula or Lachlan Shire, and is governed by a Shire Council.

Sometimes words other than "City" or "Shire" will be used in the names of LGAs. The word "Municipality" occurs in some states: in New South Wales, it is typically used for older urban areas and the word is also used for several rural towns in South Australia. Some rural areas in South Australia are known as "District Councils", while larger rural towns and small metropolitan centres in Queensland and Western Australia simply use the term "Town". New South Wales and Queensland have introduced a new term, "Region", for LGAs formed by the amalgamation of smaller shires and rural cities. Historically, the word "Borough" was common for small towns and metropolitan areas in Victoria, but only the Borough of Queenscliffe remains. In New South Wales, where the Local Government Act does not require a designation, some local governments are legally known simply as "Councils", such as Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Inner West Council, or Federation Council. All the LGAs in Tasmania that were previously 'Municipalities' have been renamed 'Councils.'

Almost all local councils have the same administrative functions and similar political structures, regardless of their naming, and retain a particular designation ("Shire", "Borough", "Town", "City") for historical reasons only. They will typically have an elected council and usually a mayor or shire president responsible for chairing meetings of the council. In some councils, the mayor is a directly elected figure, but in most cases the mayor is elected by their fellow councillors from among their own number. The powers of mayors vary as well. In some states such as Queensland, the mayors have broad executive functions, whereas in New South Wales mayors are essentially ceremonial figureheads who can only exercise power at the discretion of the council.

Most of the capital city LGAs administer only the central business districts and nearby central suburbs. A notable exception is the City of Brisbane, the most populous LGA in the country, which administers a significant part of the Brisbane metropolitan area. In most cases, when a city's population statistics are used, it is the statistical division population rather than the local government area.

Constitutional position of local government

Local government powers are determined by state governments, and states have primary responsibility for funding and exclusive responsibility for supervision of local councils.

Local government is mentioned in the annotated Australian constitution, as a department of the State Governments, and they are mentioned in the constitutions of each of the six states. A 1988 referendum sought to explicitly insert mention of local government in the federal constitution but this was comprehensively defeated. A further referendum was proposed in 2013, but was cancelled due to the change in the election date.

Federal government interaction with local councils happens regularly through the provision of federal grants to help fund local government managed projects.

Powers and functions

All local governments are approximately equal in their theoretical powers, although LGAs that encompass large cities such as Brisbane and the Gold Coast command more resources due to their larger population base. Unlike local governments in many other countries, services such as police, fire protection and schools are provided by state or territory government rather than by local councils.

The councils' chief responsibility in the first half of the 20th century was the provision of physical infrastructure such as roads, bridges and sewerage.[12] From the 1970s the emphasis changed to community facilities such as libraries and parks, maintenance of local roads, town planning and development approvals, and local services such as waste disposal. Child care, tourism and urban renewal were also beginning to be part of local governments' role. These are financed by collection of local land taxes known as "rates," and grants from the state and Commonwealth governments. They are caricatured as being concerned only with the "three Rs": Rates, Roads and Rubbish.

However, the roles of local government areas in Australia have recently expanded as higher levels of government have devolved activities to the third tier. Examples include the provision of community health services, regional airports and pollution control[12] as well as community safety and accessible transport.[5] The changes in services has been described as a shift from 'services to property' towards 'services to people'.[5] Community expectations of local government in Australia has risen in the 21st century partly as a result of wider participation in decision making and transparent management practices.[12]

Recent years have seen some State governments devolving additional powers onto LGAs. In Queensland and Western Australia LGAs have been granted the power to independently enact their own local subsidiary legislation, in contrast to the previous system of by-laws. Councils also have organised their own representative structures such as Local Government Associations and Regional Organisations of Councils.

Doctrines of new public management have shaped state government legislation towards increased freedoms aiming to allow greater flexibility on the part of local governments.[5]

Unincorporated areas

Unlike many other countries, Australia has only one level of local government immediately beneath state and territorial governments. Aside from very sparsely populated areas and a few other special cases, almost all of Australia is part of a local government area. Unincorporated areas are often in remote locations, cover vast areas or have very small populations.

Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Capital Territory has no municipalities and is in some sense an unincorporated area. The ACT government is directly responsible for matters normally carried out by a local government.

New South Wales

New South Wales has 2 unincorporated areas:

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, 1.45% of the total area and 4.0% of the population are in unincorporated areas, including Unincorporated Top End Region (Finniss-Mary, the largest), areas covered by the Darwin Rates ActNhulunbuy, Alyangula on Groote Eylandt in the northern region, and Yulara in the southern region.[13]

South Australia

In South Australia, 60% of the state's area is unincorporated and communities located within receive municipal services provided by a state agency, the Outback Communities Authority.[14]

Victoria

Victoria has 10 unincorporated areas, which are either ski resorts or small islands:[13]

Western Australia

Western Australia has 3 unincorporated areas:

See also

References

  1. ^ "Democracy in Australia – Australia's political system" (PDF). Australian Collaboration. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Kelly, A. H. (4–8 July 2011). The Development of Local Government in Australia, Focusing on NSW: From Road Builder to Planning Agency to Servant of the State Government and Developmentalism (Paper). World Planning Schools Congress 2011. Perth: University of Wollongong. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Appendix G Local government in State constitutions". Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government. Australian Government. December 2011. Archived from the original on 10 May 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Local Government". Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. 17 August 2016. Archived from the original on 10 October 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Dollery, Brian E.; Lorenzo Robotti (2008). The Theory and Practice of Local Government Reform. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 93–96. ISBN 1781956685. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Local Government National Report 2013–14" (PDF). Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. July 2015. p. Appendix F. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  7. ^ "The annotated constitution of the Australian Commonwealth (1901)". Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  8. ^ "The annotated constitution of the Australian Commonwealth (1901)" (PDF). Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Council history". City of Melbourne. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  10. ^ Dollery, Brian E.; Marshall, Neil (1997). Australian Local Government: Reform and Renewal. Macmillan Education AU. p. 4. ISBN 0732929040. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Dollery, Brian E.; Joseph Garcea, Edward C. Lasage, Jr. (2008). Local Government Reform: A Comparative Analysis of Advanced Anglo-American Countries. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 18–19. ISBN 1782543864. Retrieved 1 July 2013.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ a b c Brunet-Jailly, Emmanuel; John Francis Martin (2010). Local Government in a Global World: Australia and Canada in Comparative Perspective. University of Toronto Press. pp. 82–84. ISBN 0802099637. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  13. ^ a b "Local Government Areas and Statistical Local Areas - Alphabetic". Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), Jul 2008. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 26 September 2008. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  14. ^ "Welcome to the Outback Communities Authority". Government of South Australia. Archived from the original on 13 September 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  15. ^ Department of Planning and Community Development, Government of Victoria, Australia (19 April 2013). "French Island and Sandstone Island Planning Scheme Home Page and user's guide". Planningschemes.dpcd.vic.gov.au. Archived from the original on 10 April 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2013.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)

External links

1974 Australian referendum (Local Government Bodies)

The Constitution Alteration (Local Government Bodies) 1974 was an Australian referendum held in the 1974 referendums which sought to amend the Australian constitution to allow the Commonwealth to grant financial assistance to local government body, and to borrow money on their behalf.

Australian Local Government Association

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is the principal organisation representing Local Government bodies in Australia, and acts as the independent interest body for Australian local mayors, councillors and local government employees. The association is the federal branch of local government associations in each state and territory.

Avenue of honour

In Australia, an Avenue of Honour is a memorial avenue of trees, with each tree symbolising a person. The tradition, which originated in the Goldfields region of Victoria, Australia, is an important part of Australian culture. There are 547 known avenues of honour in Australia, in all states and territories except the Northern Territory. Over half are in Victoria.Most avenues are in remembrance of those who fought or died war, particularly World War I (1914–1918), although the earliest recorded avenues were planted in remembrance of Australia's participation in the Second Boer War (1899-1902). Since soldiers were grouped by the place they were recruited, a military defeat often meant all of the men of eligible age from the town were killed in the same battle. Many of the avenue's trees include metal plaques naming the victims.

Many of these avenues now feature large, established trees and exotic species.

Several of these avenues are listed on the Victorian Heritage Register; most others are afforded local levels of heritage protection through the various Local government in Australia and the National Trust of Australia; however, many such avenues have since been affected by road development.

An online project titled "Avenues of Honour 1915-2015" (www.avenuesofhonour.org) has been established by Treenet, the urban tree research and education organisation based at the University of Adelaide's Waite Arboretum.

Benny (surname)

Benny is the surname of:

Benjamin Benny (1869–1935), member of Australian Senate

Bob Benny, Belgian singer and musical theatre performer born Emilius Wagemans (1926–2011)

D. C. Benny, American stand-up comedian born Ben Wartofsky

Eric Benny (born 1978), former footballer and former manager of the Indian national football team

Grace Benny (1872–1944), first woman elected to local government in Australia

Jack Benny (1894–1974), American comedian, vaudeville performer and actor born Benjamin Kubelsky

Tasmyn Benny (born 1998), boxer from New Zealand

Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance

The Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance is a journal released by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and the UTS Centre for Local Government (University of Technology, Sydney).

Council

A council is a group of people who come together to consult, deliberate, or make decisions. A council may function as a legislature, especially at a town, city or county/shire level, but most legislative bodies at the state or national level are not considered councils. At such levels, there may be no separate executive branch, and the council may effectively represent the entire government. A board of directors might also be denoted as a council. A committee might also be denoted as a council, though a committee is generally a subordinate body composed of members of a larger body, while a council may not be. Because many schools have a student council, the council is the form of governance with which many people are likely to have their first experience as electors or participants.

A member of a council may be referred to as a councillor or councilperson, or by the gender-specific titles of councilman and councilwoman.

Council ranger

Council rangers are officers employed by local government areas in Australia to enforce the by-laws of those local governments and a limited range of state laws relating to such matters as litter control, animal control, dog laws, cat laws, bush fire control, off-road vehicles, emergency management, and parking.

Rangers are responsible for enforcing off-road vehicle laws by patrolling bush lands, beaches and reserves to protect sensitive areas from unauthorised off-road vehicles use.

Unless they are also sworn as special constables, rangers do not have full police powers. Special Constable status is only applicable in New South Wales under the Police Act 1901. In most states it is legislated under various Acts as “Authorised Person” or “Authorised Officer” without the requirement to take an oath of office.

The general law enforcement duties performed in Australia unlike many other international jurisdictions are performed by the Australian Federal Police and individual State/Territory Police.

A Council Ranger is also referred to as "Local Laws Officers" in some of Australia's eastern states.

In Western Australia, a ranger is appointed by the Local Government Authority (LGA) CEO and the appointment is advertised in the State Government Gazette.

A Ranger is only authorised in the LGA District he or she is employed. However, it is not uncommon for a ranger be authorised in another district as well.

The Authorised Person/Officer can enter another district to investigate an offence under various Acts if the offence had originally occurred in the judicial district. In relation to Control of Vehicles (Off Road) Act offences a ranger can pursue an offender into another district.

Rangers are classed as a “Public Officer” under the Criminal Investigation Act (2004), which gives the same legal standing as a police officer, for Act that the ranger is authorised under.

Often a Ranger will be authorised under the Animal Welfare Act (2002) as a Restricted General Inspector to deal with animal welfare issues not covered by the Dog, Cat and Livestock Acts. This is the same legislation that gives authorisation to the RSPCA WA Inspectorate. The authorisation is only valid in the district the ranger is employed in.

Some local government councils have various alternative titles for rangers being “Customer Advocates” (City of Swan) “Community Safety Rangers” (City of Stirling) “Community Ranger” (City of South Perth. Town of Bassendean) “Security Officer Ranger” (City of Bayswater) "City Assist" (City of Kwinana) and “Shire Ranger” (Shire of East Pilbara and various regional towns and shires)

Training in Western Australia is at TAFE level. The minimum requirement is the study courses of “Municipal Law Enforcement Units A and B”. This can progress into the qualification of Certificate IV in Local Government (Regulatory Services)

A Council Ranger/Local Laws Officer in Australia is the equivalent to a Bylaw Enforcement Officer in Canada.

Dederang, Victoria

Dederang is a town in north east Victoria. The town is located on the Kiewa Valley Highway, in the Alpine Shire Local government in Australia, 329 kilometres from the state capital, Melbourne. Dederang is located in the Kiewa River valley. At the 2006 census, Dederang and the surrounding area had a population of 422.Dederang Post Office opened on 1 September 1877 and closed in 1977.The town is a popular trout fishing centre and holds a New Year's Day race meeting.

The town in conjunction with neighbouring township Mount Beauty has an Australian Rules football team Dederang-Mount Beauty competing in the Tallangatta & District Football League.

Dederang has a picnic horse racing club, the Dederang Picnic Race Club, which holds its one race meeting a year with the Dederang Cup in January.Golfers play at the Dederang Golf Club on the Kiewa Valley Highway.Other notable clubs are the Dederang Bowls Club and the Dederang & District Trail Riding Club.

Electorates of the Australian states and territories

A State Electoral District is an electorate within the Lower House or Legislative Assembly of Australian states and territories. Most state electoral districts (except the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania, which have multi-member electorates using a proportional voting method) send a single member to a state or territory's parliament using the preferential method of voting. The area of a state electoral district is dependent upon the Electoral Acts in the various states and vary in area between them. At present, there are 409 state electoral districts in Australia.

State electoral districts do not apply to the Upper House, or Legislative Council, in those states that have one (New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia). In New South Wales and South Australia, MLCs represent the entire state, in Tasmania they represent single-member districts, and in Victoria and Western Australia they represent a region formed by grouping electoral districts together.

Grace Benny

Susan Grace Benny, née Anderson, (1872–1944) of Seacliff, South Australia, generally referred to as Grace Benny or S. Grace Benny, was the first woman elected to local government in Australia when she was elected to the Brighton Council in 1919. She represented the Seacliff ward from November 1919 until December 1921.

Greater Newcastle Act 1937

Greater Newcastle Act 1937 was a New South Wales statute with the purpose of amalgamating a series of local government areas to create the City of Greater Newcastle. The Act also transferred parts of Lake Macquarie Shire and Tarro Shire to the new city. The amalgamations and transfers took effect from 2 April 1938.The newly created City of Greater Newcastle was subsequently renamed to City of Newcastle on 23 March 1949.

List of mayors and lord mayors of Adelaide

This is a list of the mayors and lord mayors of the City of Adelaide, a local government area of South Australia.The first local government in Australia was formed on 31 October 1840 with the election of nineteen councillors to the new Adelaide Corporation, followed by the councillors' election of a mayor. The first mayor was James Hurtle Fisher and the first council meeting was held on 4 November 1840.

List of regions of Australia

This is a list of regions of Australia that are not Australian states or territories. The most commonly known regionalisation is the governmental division of the state into regions for economic development purposes.

Others regionalisations include those made for purposes of land management, such as agriculture or conservation; information gathering, such as statistical or meteorological. Although most regionalisations were defined for specific purposes and give specific boundaries, many regions will have similar names and extents across different regionalisations. As a result, the names and boundaries of regions can vary and may overlap in popular places.

Not all the regions in this list have official status as an economic or administrative region.

Local Government (Areas) Act 1948

Local Government (Areas) Act 1948 was a landmark New South Wales statute that was notable for its wide-ranging reforms for and amalgamations of the Local Government Areas of New South Wales within the County of Cumberland. Largely informed by the recommendations and findings of the 1945–46 Royal Commission on Local Government Boundaries, the act was written and presented to parliament by the Minister for Local Government in the NSW Government, Joseph Cahill.

Local Government Act 1995

The Local Government Act 1995 is an act of the Western Australian Parliament which lays down the responsibilities, powers and procedures for election of Local Government Bodies.

Local Government Areas Amalgamation Act 1980

Local Government Areas Amalgamation Act 1980 was a New South Wales statute with the purpose of amalgamating a series of local government areas in New South Wales. The Act amended the Local Government Act 1919 to give force to the amalgamations. The amalgamations took effect from 1 January 1981.

The Act was repealed by the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011.

Nic Nolan

Nic Nolan (born 1 May 1958 in Chiswick, London, England) is an Australian broadcast journalist and communications consultant working with both private enterprise and Federal, State and Local Government in Australia. Nolan was general manager of Adelaide youth radio station Fresh 92.7 (Fresh FM (Australia)) 2009–2011. Before that, Nolan was Programme Director of Adelaide's number one Newstalk radio station 5AA (FIVEaa) 2004–2008, in that time, taking the station to 32 consecutive breakfast number ones and 11 consecutive 10+ number one ratings victories. Between 1988 and 2004, Nolan was the breakfast news anchor and News Director of Perth's number one rating radio station, Mix 94.5. Nolan was a finalist for Best Programme Director in the Australian Commercial Radio Awards, in 2005 and in 2007 and 2008. In February 2009, Nolan was commissioned to project-manage the establishment of an online daily newspaper in Adelaide, "Indaily". Nolan is vice-president of the South Australian Press Club, of which he has been a committee member since 2004.

Outline of Australia

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Australia:

Australia refers to both the continent of Australia and to the Commonwealth of Australia, the sovereign country. Australia, the world's smallest continent, is in the Southern Hemisphere and borders both the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

The Commonwealth of Australia comprises the mainland of the Australian continent, plus the major island of Tasmania, and other nearby islands. The neighbouring countries are Indonesia, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia to the north-east, and New Zealand to the south-east.

The Australian mainland has been inhabited for more than 60,000 years by Indigenous Australians. After sporadic visits by fishermen from the north and then European discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606, the eastern half of Australia was later claimed by the British in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation as part of the colony of New South Wales, commencing on 26 January 1788. As the population grew and new areas were explored, another five largely self-governing Crown colonies were established during the 19th century.

Regional Organisations of Councils

Regional Organisations of Councils (ROCs) – sometimes called Voluntary Regional Organisations of Councils – are voluntary groupings of councils in Australia. ROCs usually involve collaborative partnerships between neighbouring councils in a particular region or area.ROCs vary considerably in size and structure but they have two things in common: their member councils have agreed to work together on one or more common issues and they nominate councillors (and in a small number of cases, council staff) to represent them on the ROC’s board.

Smaller ROCs operate entirely through the staff of their member councils and may not have any formal structure. Others are incorporated associations or companies and have a small staffed secretariat funded mainly through membership fees. ROCs also derive income from fees for managing joint activities for their member councils or from grants from state and federal governments.

The activities of ROCs vary from organisation to organisation and include:

Research and advocacy on key regional issues to state and federal governments

Management of regional tendering and purchase agreements which achieve economies of scale and/or cost savings for member councils

Facilitation of cooperative activities between councils such as regional planning, environmental management or economic development

Management of regional projects funded by other levels of government

Information exchange and best practice initiatives

Regional promotionSome of these activities may involve only member councils but many ROCs also develop strategic partnerships with other organisations, regional or state associations or state and federal government agencies. However, ROCs usually have no formal statutory authority and their advocacy can bring them into conflict with state government.Not all councils belong to a ROC, whilst a small number of councils on the borders between two ROCs belong to more than one organisation. The number of ROCs and proportion of participating councils varies from state to state, with NSW and Queensland having the highest number of active ROCs. There are 17 NSW Regional Organisations of Councils and 18 in Queensland.

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