Over the past three decades, all Australian State and Territory local government systems have experienced episodes of reform of varying degrees of intensity, often involving controversial programs of forced amalgamation. Perspectives on Australian Local Government Reform draws upon the insights and expertise of an extraordinary group of contributors, drawn from practitioners with extensive and exceptional ‘hands-on’ experience in local government, as well as scholars of Australian local government. The book seeks to blend the wisdom derived from long years as practitioners of local government with the insights flowing from scholarship.
This book comprises three main parts. The first part provides reflections on the aims of Australian local government reform. The second considers the process of the reforms, while the final part of the book contemplates the future of Australian local government.
There are twelve chapters each written by separate contributors who have distinguished themselves as policy makers, practitioners or scholars of local government in Australia. The methodological approach employed harnesses the perspectives of experts from all seven Australian local government jurisdictions in an effort to provide a holistic appreciation of the nature of local government reform in the Australian federation.
Perspectives on Australian Local Government Reform will be of special interest to those engaged in local government and those with an interest in the ‘grassroots’ sector, given the continuing discussion in Australian jurisdictions about the need for ongoing local government reform.
Notes on Contributors
2. Structural Reform in Tasmania
Ron Sanderson and Stewart Wardlaw
3. Intergovernmental Relations Reform: A South Australian Perspective
4. Financial Reform in New South Wales: Towards a Sustainable Future
5. Amalgamation in Greater Perth
6. Local Government Amalgamation and De-amalgamation in Queensland
7. Clarence Valley Council in New South Wales: A Successful Municipal Merger?
8. The Special Case of Reform in The Northern Territory: What are the Lessons?
9. New South Wales Local Government Reform 2011 to 2014
10. Forced Amalgamation: Lessons from Victoria
Michael A Kortt and Joe Wallis
11. Effective Local Government Collaboration: Council of Mayors
12. Recognising the Local Government Sector
This new work published by the Federation Press is a compendium of essays that consider local government reform from economic and political perspectives. The authors of the essays include a former Minister in the New South Wales Government, academics with specialties in economics and public policy, and current and former public servants with extensive experience in local government administration. Those engaged in areas of practice that deal with local government, or even those just interest in public policy, will no doubt find this an interesting, informative read and a source of detail, not likely to be replicated elsewhere, that explains the politics behind and purposes of many policy steps taken by local governments around Australia. Although the essays traverse the aims of local government reform at a general level, the process of reform as it has been undertaken, and perspectives on the future of local government in Australia, of particular interest to those based in Queensland will be the lucid and well-researched history of the amalgamation and de-amalgamation of local councils in Queensland over the last ten years.
Queensland Law Reporter – 18 December 2015 –  49 QLR
Taken as a whole, Perspectives on Australian Local Government Reform provides a valuable update on continuing processes of reform across Australian local government systems. The overall narrative is still one told through the lens of structural reform, or responses to the possibility of structural reform. However, there is plenty of other detail in the book. Both academics and practitioners will find it of interest for precisely this reason and the editors have assembled an enviable group of people to make the contributions.
Dr Bligh Grant, The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, November 2015