About local government
The system of Local Government
The Federal system of government in Australia has three levels:
- Commonwealth Government
- State Governments, and
- Local Governments.
In Queensland the system of local government is provided for under Section 70 of the Constitution of Queensland.
State legislation, mainly the Local Government Act gives Local Government its powers.
A local government is an elected body responsible for the good rule and government of a part of Queensland.
Local governments have jurisdiction over designated areas of Queensland. These are called a local government areas. There are 77 local government areas in Queensland.
To see a map of Queensland local government areas, please visit Local Government Association of Queensland.
The Council is the body of officials, called Councillors. Residents of the local government area elect Councillors to represent them in making decisions about the works and services the local government provides.
A local government area may be divided into areas called divisions for the purposes of electing their representatives. Logan City Council has 12 divisions each returning one Councillor.
Local Governments in Queensland have a range of responsibilities including infrastructure and services like:
- water supply
- public facilities
- development regulation
- health and safety standards
- community programs
For more information about the how councils work, please visit:
- The Queensland Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (DSDILGP) - Community guide to local government in Queensland (PDF 131.29 KB) and So you want to be a councillor?
The elected Council’s responsibility is to set the strategic direction for the local government’s program of works and services over the long term, in the same way that a board of directors does for a commercial company.
Implementing the strategic direction and the program of works and services is the responsibility of the organisation led by its Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Local Government Agencies
DSDILGP is responsible for administering the Local Government Act and giving advice and policy development support to the Minister for Local Government.
It is also supports the:
- Councillor Conduct Tribunal, an independent body that deals with misconduct complaints about Councillors, and
- Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal, which independently assesses and regulates Councillor Remuneration.
The Minister for Local Government also has powers to oversee the effectiveness of local governments and their compliance with legislation and the “good rule” principle. The Minister can intervene in situations where a local government or its councillors are considered to be acting illegally or to the detriment of the community. In these cases the Minister has power to dissolve the Council or to suspend any or all of its councillors.
Although local governments have a range of decision making powers they are not totally independent from scrutiny. Their decisions can be subject to review by DSDILGP and the Minister if they stray from their allocated powers.
Other officials like the Queensland Ombudsman, Queensland Audit Office and some other Government agencies have power to require the local government to explain certain decisions if they consider the Council is not complying with legislation.
The Crime and Corruption Commission and Office of the Independent Assessor have special powers to investigate and act to redress inappropriate conduct or misconduct and allegations of corruption in the handling of local government business.
Councillors individually and collectively can be held accountable for their part in these matters.
The LGAQ is the peak industry body representing the 77 Councils across the state. The Association advocates with government on behalf of the industry and also provides services like insurance brokerage and access to legal and policy advice to member Councils.
For more information about the roles these agencies play in local government, please visit:
- Queensland Ombudsman
- Audit Office
- Crime and Corruption Commission
- Office of Independent Assessor
Local Government Reform
There is an ongoing process of reform to improve the performance of local government as both a democratic institution and a responsive provider of works and services to its communities. The pace and complexity of the changes taking place represent a challenge for Councillors and their organisation in keeping up with new procedures and compliance obligations.
It is important for Councillors to keep informed about these reforms through the information provided in briefings and reports from Council staff.