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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Government

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Local government has a limited constitutional position in Australia, being organised under state or territory legislation upon broadly similar lines across Australia. There are no local councils in the Australian Capital Territory, where the Territory government has direct responsibility for local services. Local government in Australia provides a relatively narrow range of services compared with many other nations.

Each state and the Northern Territory has a number of local government areas, known variously as cities, towns, municipalities, boroughs, shires or districts. The main variation is the existence of various councils in the Northern Territory that are based on rural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The generic local body is the council and in December 2011, there were 565 local councils in Australia. Councillors and aldermen are elected by local residents, though councils may be dismissed by state governments – and occasionally are.

Within each local government area, various services are provided, though there are many variations between states as well as between urban and rural councils. The Brisbane City Council is responsible for the provision of a wide range of services across most of Brisbane; by contrast, many small rural councils provide a relatively small number of services. Local government responsibilities may include sanitary and garbage services; road, street and bridge construction; water supply and sewerage; local libraries and museums; fire brigades; harbour services; town planning, and some local health and welfare services.

The scope of local government duties differs a great deal around the nation. In all states, many of the responsibilities of a local nature are performed either directly by the state government or through semi-government authorities, known as statutory authorities. The provision of household water, for instance, is often undertaken by a statutory authority operating under state legislation.

 

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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.


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