HELPING LOCAL
GOVERNMENTS
GOVERN BETTER
Skip to main content
Skip to Search and Main Navigation

COUNCIL POWERS

Council can only make decisions that are within its powers. These are set out in Section 3F (1) of the Local Government Act 1989, as well as in other state and federal legislation.

Under the Act, councils have broad powers to achieve the objectives of local government and perform their functions. This is subject, of course, to any limitations or restrictions imposed by the Local Government Act, or any other relevant act.

SCOPE OF COUNCIL POWERS

Councils can do whatever is reasonably necessary to fulfil the terms of the Act. As long as they don’t stray into areas that are the responsibility of other levels of government, they can undertake a wide range of functions for their local community.

For example, while local government has the power to tax its constituents (such as the capacity to raise rates), it cannot levy an income tax (which is a federal power) or another land tax (which is a state power). Councils also are not allowed to take over state powers such as policing, road rules or public transport regulation.

Local government legislation (local laws) is subordinate to state and federal legislation. Any laws made by councils must not replicate, or be inconsistent with, state and federal legislation. See Functions of local government for more information.

When carrying out their functions, councils must also comply with administrative law principles which affect a person’s rights or legitimate expectations.

FACT

“Councils have considerable flexibility to determine what they do.”

Share