The people rule @

Topic 3: Local representation

Student handout 1: Local government

Focus questions

What are the roles and responsibilities of local government?
How does local government represent local interests?
How effective is your local government?


Local government is the third level of Australian government. The names of local government bodies vary from State to State. Responsibility for local government rests with the States, which require local authorities to be responsible for functions such as road maintenance, drainage and sanitation, town planning and subdivision, and recreational facilities. The range of powers granted varies between States as does the method of election. Local government is funded by collection of rates.

Student activity

As a group choose one of the topics listed below. Present your findings to the rest of the class as a poster, booklet, radio interview, magazine, newspaper article or oral presentation.


  • Parliament @ Work. See 'wwwlinks/General/Local Government'. You can find links to local government bodies in all States and Territories.
  • Local papers and local council directories.
  • Visits to local councils.
  • Email questions through your local council website.
  • School visits by local councillors.
Topic A: Our local government

Use the links provided on Parliament @ Work to find out about your local government. Develop a wall chart or booklet to record your information.

  • What services does your local government authority provide?
  • What are the most important priorities of your local government authority?
  • How many local government representatives are there? How are elections arranged?
  • What avenues exist for consultation with ratepayers?
  • Are political parties active in your local community?
  • How well do you think your local government represents the interests of the local community?
Topic B: Issues in the local area

Use the website or local papers to identify an issue that affects your local area (for example: provision of libraries, planning permits for houses or other buildings, child care, recycling, traffic management, youth services).

Develop a list of questions that will enable you to explore this issue. For example:

  • What is the issue?
  • Why is the issue being contested?
  • What are the various points of view?
  • How does the local government authority ensure that there is input from the community?
  • How should the issue be resolved?
Topic C: Local government interview

Develop a list of questions to put to a local government member that will enable you to understand the role of local government and representation in the local area. These could include:

  • Why did you enter local politics?
  • What are the main issues affecting our local area?
  • How do you ensure that the interests of local people are taken into account when making decisions?
  • What have you achieved in this role?

Overview | Notes for teachers | Introductory activities 1 | Introductory activities 2 | Topic 1.1 | Topic 1.2 | Topic 1.3 | Topic 1.4 | Topic 1.5 | Topic 2 | Topic 3 | Topic 4 | Extension activities

Student Handout