New book takes local government seriously

A new book from Institute for Public Policy and Governance, University of Technology Sydney (UTS: IPPG) researchers Bligh Grant and Joseph Drew provides a comprehensive look at the history of Australian local government and the issues facing the sector today.

Former New South Wales premier Bob Carr launched the work in June.

The book aims to take a wide-reaching look at local government in Australia, which co-author Dr Bligh Grant said has been traditionally ‘under-researched’ from a political science perspective.

Local government may have received some attention in terms of planning and economics, he said, but, “if you choose to look at the world through a political lens, local government has been neglected.”

The 445-page tome provides a historical overview of local government from colonisation until today; applies political theory; and takes an in-depth look at policy issues including amalgamations, community engagement and global cities.

A blind peer review observed it is: “the first book-length, comprehensive overview of local government in Australia for many years… it takes local government seriously from a political science and public policy perspective, which is unusual.”

Despite the compliment, Dr Grant said the work “hasn’t yet been thrown open to the shark tank” of academic feedback and he expects it may ruffle some feathers.  

Some potentially controversial elements include the argument for the importance of local government as a political tier and a critical look at the recent New South Wales amalgamations and the Fit for Future process.

Dr Grant said the book is not only for an academic audience, but aims to “bridge the gap” and be an accessible and valuable resource to local government professionals as well.  

The hardcopy is available for order from publisher Springer and the full text or individual chapters can be downloaded via its website: