Review of Regional Governance 2013

The Northern Territory Government is committed to delivering a stronger local voice and improved services in regional and remote areas of the Northern Territory.

Since their formation in 2008, the regional shire councils have made strong progress in delivering remote services with sound management and strong accountability.

However, it is acknowledged that many residents feel disconnected from their shire councils and more needs to be done to strengthen the connections between shire councils and local residents.

Local government needs to be responsive and connected to people. This is especially important in regional and remote areas.

The review of local governance in regional and remote areas aims to:

  • make sure people living in regional and remote areas have a strong voice in local government
  • use local knowledge, authority and responsibility
  • keep strong accountability and good service standards.

Regional governance working group

The Minister for Local Government established a regional governance working group, made up of people from remote communities across the Territory as well as elected councillors and industry representatives to provide advice on the future of local government.

The group was asked to develop options for regional governance that could strengthen local governments in regional and remote communities. The options were discussed during the three month consultation period.

The consultation - what did you say?

Between 12 March and 21 June 2013, Department of Local Government staff held 279 community and stakeholder meetings which involved over 3,200 residents.

The contributions made by people across the Northern Territory have provided important feedback on regional governance and local government operations in regional and remote communities.

A summary of the consultation process is detailed in the Review of Regional Governance: Final Consultation Report (4.0 mb)

The changes

Based on repeated recommendations made throughout the consultation process, the Northern Territory Government has decided that reforms will be staged. 

The first stage of amendments to the Local Government Act was introduced in the August 2013 parliamentary sittings and on 1 January 2014 a new local governance system of regional councils and local authorities came into effect.

The amendments introduced strengthened Local Authorities into the regional governance framework.  The introduction of Local Authorities is designed to support people living in regional and remote communities having a strong voice in community decisions and planning.

Following the commencement of the revised Act on 1 January 2014:

  • regional councils with local authorities will replace shire councils
  • local authorities will have a key role linking the community and the regional council
  • regional councils will be community focussed and required to plan for and report on each local authority area
  • new ministerial guidelines, developed in consultation with councils, will set out the establishment and operational processes of local authorities.

Ministerial guidelines for local authorities

The ministerial guidelines for the establishment and operation of local authorities are designed to: 

  • give communities more say in the long term plans and budget for their community
  • provide a reference point for community members to bring up matters that are important to the community
  • deal with urgent issues
  •  act as a conduit to the regional council.

The Department of Local Government and Community Services has consulted with the local government sector and other community stakeholders concerning the development and practical implementation of the ministerial guidelines.


Regional governance newsletters

Stage 1

Stage 2

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Last updated: 11 October 2017