Welcome changes to Act

Article image - Welcome changes to Act Mayor Damien Ryan, President, Local Government Association of the Northern Territory

The Local Government Association Northern Territory (LGANT) welcomes the amendments made by the Northern Territory Government to the Local Government Act on 1 July 2014.

The Victoria Daly Shire has now been divided into two new councils, becoming the Victoria Daly Regional Council and the West Daly Regional Council.

This change was brought about by the Northern Territory Government’s commitment to this remote area and to meet the expressed need of communities who want more of a say in their affairs.

Apart from this one structural change, which has increased the number of councils in the Northern Territory from 16 to 17, all the former large shires are now renamed as‘regional councils’.

The Local Government areas of the Northern Territory are now represented by five municipal, nine regional and three shires.

Regional councils cover wide geographical local government areas with multiple towns whereas shire and municipal councils have much smaller local government areas with one city or town.

Regional councils are required under the Act to establish ‘local authorities’ for each of the communities in their local government area.

The membership of the local authorities consist of ward elected councillors and appointed community members who deal with the service delivery and other issues in their communities including those components of a regional council’s annual budget andregional plan.

In all, there are 63 local authorities in the Northern Territory with a requirement to meet six times per year.

To support these local authorities the Northern Territory Government has allocated funds of $5 million in 2014/15 to regional councils to enable local authorities to fund local projects.

Another change has seen the Northern Territory Government sign an agreement with LGANT that allows LGANT to perform additional support services for local governments.

This agreement represents a milestone for LGANT and the Northern Territory Government as it enhances the capacity, governance and performance of all councils across the Territory.

One of the key support services that LGANT will be providing is professional development for local authority members as a mechanism for enhancing the governance of these local authorities.

Local authorities are a crucial plank in the legislation to enable remote communities to maintain their voice in all local community affairs.

LGANT looks forward to providing assistance to all councils and local authorities across the Northern Territory