Much of the following information has been taken from the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning’s ‘Councillor Resource Kit’. It has been included on the Council website to demonstrate Council’s commitment to keeping Yarrabah people up to date with both the executive and administrative arms roles and responsibilities.
What is Local Government?
Local government is not recognised in the Australian Constitution. Each state has its own system of local government, which is typically recognised in its state constitution.
Section 70 of the Constitution of Queensland 2001 states there must be a ‘system of local government in Queensland’.
While section 71 provides that ‘a local government is an elected body that is charged with the good rule and government of a part of Queensland’.
As such, local governments are created, and possess only those powers which have been delegated to them, by the Queensland Legislative Assembly (i.e. Parliament) through state legislation.
Local Government Act 2009
The Local Government Act 2009 (LGA09) is the principal piece of legislation governing the establishment, constitution and operation of local government in Queensland.
The LGA09 is a principle-based legislation, which provides local governments with the flexibility to focus on required outcomes and decide on the appropriate way to achieve those outcomes in a way that suits their particular and unique situations – as long as the processes are rational, justifiable and transparent. Local governments therefore make decisions about policies, processes and procedures to suit their size, location and administrative circumstances.
The LGA09 (section 4) is founded on five local government principles:
- Transparent and effective processes and decision-making in the public
- Sustainable development and management of assets and infrastructure, and delivery of
- Democratic representation, social inclusion and meaningful community
- Good governance of, and by, local
- Ethical and legal behaviour of local government employees.
These principles apply to anyone—including mayors, councillors, CEOs and all council employees performing a responsibility under the LGA09.
While the LGA09 is the principal ‘head of power’ for the governance of Yarrabah, Council is also bound by the provisions of the following Acts (at a minimum):
- Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008
- Building Act 1975
- Disaster Management Act 2003
- Environmental Protection Act 1994
- Food Act 2006
- Health Act 1937
- Information Privacy Act 2009
- Integrity Act 2009
- Land Act 1994
- Liquor Act 1992
- Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002
- Public Health Act 2005
- Public Sector Ethics Act 1994
- Queensland Reconstruction Act 2011
- Right to Information Act 2009
- Sustainable Planning Act 2009
- Transport Infrastructure Act 1994
- Water Act 2000.
Executive and Administrative Arms of Local Government
The LGA09 defines the responsibilities and powers of councillors, including the mayor, local government staff, and the CEO.
The Act clearly distinguishes between the roles and responsibilities of the executive (the elected mayors and councillors) and administrative (the CEO and other council employees) arms of local governments.
As the executive arm, the mayor and councillors make local laws and determine policy and other matters at a strategic level. They are responsible for determining and setting the overall direction of the local government. The executive arm determines the way the council achieves the purpose and principles of local government. Ultimately, the executive arm is directly responsible to the community for its performance.
The LGA09 empowers mayors and councillors and clearly puts them in charge of their councils.
The fundamental role of each councillor is to represent the interests of their local government area. In being elected, councillors are, individually and collectively, bound by:
- the purpose and principles of local government
- the statutory responsibilities of councillors
- any other obligations under the LGA09.
Under section 194 of the LGA09, each local government must appoint a qualified person as its Cheif Executive Officer (‘CEO’).
The role of the CEO includes implementing the decisions of the executive arm. In fulfilling this role, the CEO manages the day-to-day operations of the local government in accordance with the plans and policies determined by the executive arm.
The LGA09 provides for a wide range of council powers to be delegated.
A local government may, by resolution, delegate a power to the mayor, the CEO, a standing committee, the chairperson of a standing committee, or another local government (for the purpose of a joint local government activity). In such instances, council resolves to devolve the ‘decision-making responsibility’ by delegated authority.
The judicious use of delegations, with appropriate policy and accountability frameworks, contributes to good governance by allowing the council to focus on strategic rather than operational issues. A local government, however, cannot delegate a power that the LGA09 states must be exercised by resolution (e.g. adoption of its five-year corporate plan or annual budget).
Section 196(1) of the LGA09 requires each local government to adopt an organisational structure that is appropriate to the performance of its responsibilities.
The size, structure and number of positions within a council will vary depending on its size, revenue base, and operational responsibilities.