Local government in Victoria

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A map of local government areas in Victoria Australia Victoria with LGA names.svg
A map of local government areas in Victoria
Detail of local government areas in and around Melbourne Australia Victoria Melbourne Metro Area LGA names.svg
Detail of local government areas in and around Melbourne
Types of LGAs Australia Victoria location map colored by type.svg
Types of LGAs
LGAs in 1992 Victoria old LGAs map filled.svg
LGAs in 1992

Local government in the Australian state of Victoria consists of 79 local government areas (LGAs). [1] Also referred to as municipalities, Victorian LGAs are classified as cities (34), shires (38), rural cities (6) and boroughs (1). In general, an urban or suburban LGA is called a city and is governed by a City Council, while a rural LGA covering a larger rural area is usually called a shire and is governed by a Shire Council. Local councils have the same administrative functions and similar political structures, regardless of their classification. [2]

Contents

They will typically have an elected council and usually a mayor or shire president responsible for chairing meetings of the council. The City of Melbourne has a Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor, who are directly elected, and in the other councils a mayor and deputy mayor are elected by fellow Councillors from among their own number. Since 2017, the mayor of the City of Greater Geelong has not been directly elected. There are 10 unincorporated areas, consisting of small islands or ski resorts, which are administered either by the state government or management boards. [2]

Council elections are held every four years on the fourth Saturday in October. [3] The last council elections were held on 22 October 2016. [4] An election was not held for the City of Greater Geelong, which was under administration until council elections were held on 27 October 2017. [5] [6] In 2016, 637 local Councillors were elected in the 78 Councils contested. [7] Casual vacancies of councilors are filled by countback of the last ballots, [8] except for the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, which is filled by a by-election.

History

Local government has existed in Victoria since before its separation from New South Wales in 1851. The Town of Melbourne was established by an Act of the NSW Governor and Legislative Council in 1842 [9] [10] and the Borough of Geelong was established in 1849. [11] Both bodies continued after the creation of Victoria as a separate colony, and both later became cities. Road districts were established under legislation passed in 1853. From 1862 many road districts became shires pursuant to the District Councils Bill 1862. To become a shire, the road district had to be over 100 square miles (260 km2) in size and have annual rate revenue of over £1000.[ citation needed ] There were 96 road districts or shires created by 1865. [12]

The first Victorian general Act dealing with local government was the Local Government Act of 1874. The act empowered shires to be established in territories that could financially support them, and boroughs to be established in areas not exceeding 9 square miles (23 km2) with a population of at least 300.[ citation needed ] Promotion to town or city status was dependent upon the gross revenue of the council. Promotion was not automatic, but it was granted often.[ citation needed ]

Local government has been referred to in the Victorian constitution since 1979 (sec. IIA). It does not operate as to make Victoria a federation or protect the borders or powers of local government from amendment by executive order or act of parliament. Today, the constitution recognises it "a distinct and essential tier of government" and prohibits a council being dismissed by executive order, but grants significant powers to the state parliament in respect of local government. The clauses have been amended many times by parliament, but since 2006 the Constitution Act has required a referendum to further alter them.

The current Local Government Act dates to 1989 and eliminated administrative distinctions between cities and shires, introduced the category of rural city and removed the possibility of declaring any further boroughs or towns (existing boroughs and towns were retained, although only one, the Borough of Queenscliffe, remains today, the others being abolished with the 1994 restructure). Five shires became rural cities but were dissolved with the 1994 restructure.

In 1992, there were 65 cities in Victoria. In 1994, the Jeff Kennett government restructured local government in Victoria. His reforms dissolved 210 councils and sacked 1600 elected councillors, and created 78 new councils through amalgamations. [13] [14] In suburban Melbourne 53 municipalities were reduced to 26. The new local government areas (LGAs) were headed by commissioners appointed by the State Government. Democratically elected councils returned in 1996. [15]

The 79th LGA was created in 2002 when the Shire of Delatite was split into the Rural City of Benalla and the Shire of Mansfield. [13] A new City of Sunbury was proposed to be created from part of the City of Hume after the 2016 council elections, but this was abandoned by the Victorian Government in October 2015. [16] [17]

General characteristics

Different councils have different numbers of councillors VictoriaLocalGovernmentNumberOfCouncillors2012Election.png
Different councils have different numbers of councillors

All local government areas (i.e. cities, rural cities, shires and boroughs) are governed in a similar fashion, with an elected council, one of whom is the mayor (in shires the mayor may use the title "president"; the City of Melbourne has the title "lord mayor"). The City of Melbourne has a directly elected Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor, whereas other councils elect a mayor from one of their number. The City of Greater Geelong has not had a directly elected mayor since 2017.

Some LGAs are divided into wards for the purpose of electing Councillors. Where a ward elects a single councillor, it is by preferential voting. Where it elects multiple councillors, it is by proportional voting using the Single Transferable Vote. Voting is in all cases compulsory for enrolled voters. Elections for all councils now happen on the same day every four years—on the fourth Saturday in October two years after state parliamentary elections.

The average area of a municipal district within the Melbourne metropolitan area is 285 square kilometres (110 sq mi); the average area of the remaining municipal districts is 4,545 square kilometres (1,755 sq mi). Despite this area being comparable to the average area of a US or English county, there are no administrative subdivisions such as American towns and cities or English parishes; suburbs (a part of an urban area), towns and rural districts, although legally defined, have a purely geographical existence.

According to the Local Government Act 1989, the term "city" must be used for a municipal district which is predominantly urban in character. "Rural city" must be used for a rural district which is partly urban and partly rural in character. The term "shire" must be used for a municipal district which is predominantly rural. In practice, this is understood as referring to the population distribution between urban centres and rural areas.

The term "borough", used in the Borough of Queenscliffe, is not defined by the Act but has been retained for the single borough which survived the reforms of the 1990s. Under the repealed Local Government Act 1958, boroughs, towns and cities were defined on the basis of area, population and rateable property. In practice, boroughs were and are small towns.

Political composition

Victoria LGAs by largest council faction as of Decmber 2022. Australia Victoria LGAs by largest council faction.svg
Victoria LGAs by largest council faction as of Decmber 2022.

In contrast to ones at federal and state levels, local government elections in Victoria are a generally non-partisan affair. Major political parties typically do not endorse candidates at the council level. [18] This has resulted in a situation where councillors may hold political party affiliation, but instead contest the election as an independent. These nominal independents have attracted controversy, with their affiliation being branded as insufficiently transparent. [19] [20] [21] As the VEC, unlike in jurisdictions such as New South Wales, provides no way for party affiliation to be listed for council elections, candidates appear without any party label on ballot papers.

As a result, the overwhelming majority of councillors in Victoria are independents. The prevalence of independent councillors is generally larger in regional and rural areas, with metropolitan LGAs having a greater number of party-affiliated councillors. Nonetheless, recent trends have seen greater party involvement within local government politics. This participation has been large among smaller parties such as the Greens, with the major political parties subsequently indicating a potential change to their approach to council elections. [18] Various residents' associations, community alliances and independent groups also sporadically contest elections.

The current political composition of Victorian LGAs is as follows:

PartyCouncillors
Independent 502
Labor 54
Liberal 46
Greens 28
Team Doyle 4
Socialists 3
Port Phillip Community Alliance2
National 1
Indigenous Voice on Council1
Justice 1
Team Morgan1
Conservatives 1
Together Melbourne1
Rise Up Australia 1
Total645

Municipalities of Greater Melbourne

Thirty-one of the municipalities form the Greater Melbourne area, each being wholly, or partly, within the Melbourne metropolitan or urban area. All Melbourne suburbs lie within these municipalities. The outer of these municipalities such as Cardinia Shire and Yarra Ranges Shire have much of their area outside Melbourne's urban area. Greater Melbourne and regional municipalities are sometimes treated differently by state government legislation, for instance the Public Holidays Act permits non-metropolitan councils to replace Melbourne Cup Day with a local public holiday.

Unincorporated areas

In addition to the LGAs, there are also 10 small unincorporated areas within the state. These comprise of both coastal islands and alpine resorts. The coastal islands are:

  1. French Island and Sandstone Island incorporating Elizabeth Island [22]
  2. Gabo Island
  3. Lady Julia Percy Island

These costal island unincorporated areas are directly administered by the state of Victoria.

Six alpine resorts are excised from the surrounding shires by declarations made under the Alpine Resorts Act 1983 and administered by Alpine Resort Victoria under the Alpine Resorts (Management) Act 1997. The alpine resorts are considered to be municipal districts for the purposes of the Emergency Management Act 1986 and the Environment Protection Act 1970, [23] . The alpine resorts are:

  1. Falls Creek Alpine Resort (surrounded by the Alpine Shire)
  2. Lake Mountain Alpine Resort
  3. Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort
  4. Mount Buller Alpine Resort (surrounded by Shire of Mansfield)
  5. Mount Hotham Alpine Resort
  6. Mount Stirling Alpine Resort

They are rarely included in lists of local government areas and are not considered to be LGAs by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with their population included in the unincorporated areas section of such lists, [24] but are occasionally listed alongside municipalities. [25]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Local government areas of Victoria</span>

This is a list of local government areas (LGAs) in Victoria, sorted by region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Local government areas of Western Australia</span> Local government administrative areas in Western Australia

There are 137 local government areas of Western Australia (LGAs), which are areas, towns and districts in Western Australia that manage their own affairs to the extent permitted by the Local Government Act 1995. The Local Government Act 1995 also makes provision for regional local governments (referred to as "regional councils", established by two or more local governments for a particular purpose.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">City of Wyndham</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The City of Wyndham is a local government area in Victoria, Australia in the outer south-western suburbs of Melbourne, within the Melbourne Metropolitan Area, between Melbourne and the regional city of Geelong. It has an area of 542 square kilometres (209 sq mi). The city had a population of 255,322 in June 2018. For the year to 2018 the City of Wyndham increased its population by 14,251, the largest number of any LGA in Victoria, as well as being the second most populous and the second fastest growing at a rate of 5.9 per cent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">City of Melton</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The City of Melton is a local government area in Victoria, Australia, on Melbourne's western rural–urban fringe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">City of Greater Geelong</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The City of Greater Geelong is a local government area in the Barwon South West region of Victoria, Australia, located in the western part of the state. It covers an area of 1,248 square kilometres (482 sq mi) and, had a population of 271,057 as of the 2021 Australian census. It is primarily urban with the vast majority of its population living in the Greater Geelong urban area, while other significant settlements within the LGA include Anakie, Balliang, Barwon Heads, Batesford, Ceres, Clifton Springs, Drysdale, Lara, Ocean Grove, Portarlington and St Leonards. It was formed in 1993 from the amalgamation of the Rural City of Bellarine, Shire of Corio, City of Geelong, City of Geelong West, City of Newtown, City of South Barwon, and parts of Shire of Barrabool and Shire of Bannockburn.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Borough of Queenscliffe</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The Borough of Queenscliffe is a local government area in the Barwon South West region of Victoria, Australia, located in the southern part of the state. It is the smallest local government area in Victoria, covering an area of 10.83 square kilometres (4.18 sq mi) and, in June 2018, had a population of 2,982. It includes only two settlements, which are Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale. It is situated on the south coast, south-east of Geelong on the Bellarine Peninsula south of Swan Bay and next to the Port Phillip Heads, the entrance to Port Phillip Bay from Bass Strait.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rural City of Wangaratta</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The Rural City of Wangaratta is a local government area in the Hume region of Victoria, Australia, located in the north-east part of the state. It covers an area of 3,645 square kilometres (1,407 sq mi) and, in June 2018, had a population of 29,087. It includes the towns of Cheshunt, Eldorado, Everton, Glenrowan, Greta, Greta West, Milawa, Moyhu, Oxley, Tarrawingee, Wangaratta and Whitfield. It was formed in 1994 from the amalgamation of the City of Wangaratta, Shire of Wangaratta, Shire of Oxley, and parts of the United Shire of Beechworth, Shire of Benalla and Shire of Yarrawonga. When formed the municipality was originally called the Shire of Milawa, but a few months later, was renamed to its current name.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">City of Warrnambool</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The City of Warrnambool is a local government area in the Barwon South West region of Victoria, Australia, located in the south-western part of the state. It covers an area of 121 square kilometres (47 sq mi) and in June 2018 had a population of 34,862. It is entirely surrounded by the Shire of Moyne and the Southern Ocean. It is one of only a few regional councils in Victoria to remain serving just one urban district after the amalgamation process of 1994, although through that process it did gained some portions of the former Shire of Warrnambool.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">City of Wodonga</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The City of Wodonga is a local government area in the Hume region of Victoria, Australia, located in the north-east part of the state. It covers an area of 433 square kilometres (167 sq mi) and in June 2018, had a population of 41,429.

Local government is the third level of government in Australia, administered with limited autonomy under the states and territories, and in turn beneath the federal government. Local government is not mentioned in the Constitution of Australia, and two referendums in 1974 and 1988 to alter the Constitution relating to local government were unsuccessful. Every state/territory government recognises local government in its own respective constitution. Unlike the two-tier local government system in Canada or the United States, there is only one tier of local government in each Australian state/territory, with no distinction between counties and cities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">City of Geelong</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The City of Geelong was a local government area about 75 kilometres (47 mi) southwest of Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. The city covered an area of 13.4 square kilometres (5.2 sq mi), and existed from 1849 until 1993.

A local government area (LGA) is an administrative division of a country that a local government is responsible for. The size of an LGA varies by country but it is generally a subdivision of a state, province, division, or territory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shire of Deakin</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The Shire of Deakin was a local government area in the Goulburn Valley region, about 200 kilometres (124 mi) north of Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. The shire covered an area of 961 square kilometres (371.0 sq mi), and existed from 1893 until 1994.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rural City of Marong</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The Rural City of Marong was a local government area about 150 kilometres (93 mi) north-northwest of Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. The rural city covered an area of 1,488.93 square kilometres (574.9 sq mi), and existed from 1861 until 1994.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shire of Rochester</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The Shire of Rochester was a local government area in Victoria, Australia, about 190 kilometres (118 mi) north of Melbourne, the state capital, and immediately west and southwest of the town of Echuca. The shire covered an area of 1,934.25 square kilometres (746.8 sq mi), and existed from 1864 until 1994.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">United Shire of Beechworth</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The United Shire of Beechworth was a local government area about 270 kilometres (168 mi) northeast of Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. The shire covered an area of 771.57 square kilometres (297.9 sq mi), and existed from 1856 until 1994.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">City of Morwell</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The City of Morwell was a local government area about 150 kilometres (93 mi) east-southeast of Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. The city covered an area of 670.81 square kilometres (259.0 sq mi), and existed from 1892 until 1994.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Borough of Wonthaggi</span> Former local government area in Victoria, Australia

The Borough of Wonthaggi was a local government area about 120 kilometres (75 mi) south-southeast of Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. The borough covered an area of 56.99 square kilometres (22.0 sq mi), and existed from 1911 until 1994. Unlike many local government areas, it was constituted under its own Act of Parliament, rather than the Local Government Act.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rural City of Bellarine</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The Rural City of Bellarine was a local government area southeast of the regional city of Geelong, Victoria, Australia, covering most of the Bellarine Peninsula. The Rural City covered an area of 331.78 square kilometres (128.1 sq mi), and from its origin as the Portarlington Road District, existed in a number of forms and under different names from 1853 until 1993.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shire of Corio</span> Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The Shire of Corio was a local government area located between Geelong and Werribee, about 60 kilometres (37 mi) southwest of Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. The shire, which included all of Geelong's northern suburbs, covered an area of 704.66 square kilometres (272.1 sq mi), and existed from 1861 until 1993.

References

  1. Local Government Act 1989 (Vic)
  2. 1 2 "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.
  3. Local Government Act 1989 (Vic.), s.31
  4. Municipal Association of Victoria, Council elections
  5. "Geelong Council officially sacked, elections to be held in 2017, as bill passes Parliament". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  6. Local Government (Greater Geelong City Council) Act 2016
  7. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 April 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "Victorian Electoral Commission v Municipal Electoral Tribunal (No 2) (Review and Regulation) [2017] VCAT 375 (14 March 2017)" (PDF). VCAT. 16 March 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  9. Act 6 Victoria No. 7 of the Governor and Legislative Council of New South Wales.
  10. Victorian Municipal Directory. Brunswick: Arnall & Jackson. 1992. pp. 275–278. Accessed at State Library of Victoria, La Trobe Reading Room.
  11. Geelong Incorporation Act (NSW), 13 Vic. No. 40.
  12. The progress of Victoria: A statistical essay (Intercolonial Exhibition essays, 1866–67) by William Henry Archer. ASIN: B0008BRIUG
  13. 1 2 Royce Millar & Jason Dowling (25 April 2004). "Kennett's blitz a decade on". The Age. theage.com.au. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  14. "Information Paper: Victorian Local Government Amalgamations 1994-95 : Changes to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification" (PDF). Australian Bureau of Statistics. 1 August 1995.
  15. "Municipal Government". eMelbourne – The Encyclopedia of Melbourne Online. www.emelbourne.net.au. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  16. "Overview of the Sunbury Hume Transition Audit". Sunbury Hume Transition Audit. State Government of Victoria. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  17. "Independent Sunbury Hume Advice Accepted". Premier of Victoria. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  18. 1 2 "Melbourne council elections: Strong Greens vote poses questions for Labor, Liberals - ABC News". ABC News. 24 October 2016.
  19. https://myaccount.news.com.au/sites/geelongadvertiser/subscribe.html?sourceCode=GAWEB_WRE170_a_GGL&mode=premium&dest=https://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/opinion/socalled-independent-candidates-running-thin-in-geelong/news-story/f46575a2074cd72e772266d3e2fb9e81&memtype=anonymous [ bare URL ]
  20. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 December 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. https://myaccount.news.com.au/sites/geelongadvertiser/subscribe.html?sourceCode=GAWEB_WRE170_a&mode=premium&dest=https://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/opinion/peter-moore-i-would-much-prefer-candidates-to-be-upfront-about-their-political-affiliations/news-story/4ade19b186c93246aabbe2d2ea004417&memtype=anonymous [ bare URL ]
  22. 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.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  23. Alpine Resorts (Management) Act, 1997
  24. Australian Standard Geographical Classification, July 2010. 2010?OpenDocument Accessed 22 March 2011.
  25. For example, VicNames database Archived 19 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine