Each edition we feature the views of a
State Local Government Association President. The following is from
Councillor Margaret Vigants, President, Local Government Association
of the Northern Territory.
Visitors that I welcome to the Northern Territory often tell me
that they find something different about the place. They comment on
such things as the relaxed lifestyle, the casual dress, the greenery
of the top end, the beauty of Central Australia, the characters they
meet, the remoteness, the cosmopolitan population and the high
proportion of Aboriginal people they meet during their travels in the
They tell me we are unique and naturally our tourist promotions
often sell our part of the world on this basis. Local Government in
all areas of Australia reflect the local community and its particular
characteristics, and so it is in the Territory. Local Government in
NT is also unique.
Since being elected President of LGANT in September last year, I
have seen how different we are.
- We are young, our development of Local Government only dates
back 40 years.
- We have several different types of Councils ranging from
Special Purpose Towns to Community Government to more traditional
- We have some Councils with only a couple of hundred people in
- Our community government model gives total flexibility to
Councils to decide what they do and generally how they do it.
- We are still seeking to become a State (soon I hope) with
Local Government properly recognised in our proposed constitution.
- Our Councils tend not to have large areas but focus on a
- We have 700 Aboriginal people as elected members in the
Territory compared with small numbers in all other States.
I notice these differences more now through my involvement as an
Executive member of the Australian Local Government Association.
Meetings of the ALGA provide the opportunity for me to see how the
other States operate, to see the good features of how we and other
States work to achieve the common objectives we all share as Local
Despite the differences that I have mentioned, we in the
Territory, share many things in common with other Councils. We are
all working to advance our communities in our own ways. We all have
much that we can do. We all have to make choices and prioritise what
we can achieve with the funds available. We all represent our
constituents locally and seek to provide the best possible services
The very nature of Local Government values our differences and
does not say, there is only one way or one system that is correct.
As I move around the Territory and Australia as LGANT President, it
is clear that our differences are in fact the real strength of Local
I see Councils working locally in many differing ways that are
appropriate for their communities, but underneath this there are
common objectives we all share and are working for. It is only Local
Government that can act so effectively at the local level in this
way. Let us value and work towards our common objectives and not be
distracted by discussions on our differences, and who is right or
I congratulate Local Government FOCUS for the good work it is
doing in disseminating information on the success stories of Councils
around Australia. It is important for us to hear and read of the
positive achievements being made, and there are plenty of them.
Best wishes to all Local Government FOCUS readers for the
remainder of 1998 and I invite you to visit the Northern Territory to
see first hand what we in Local Government are doing for our