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What does local government do?

Local governments create and enforce local laws, manage services and activities which are adapted to the needs of the community they serve.

Example of services that councils provide include:

How are these services funded?

There are six main ways that local governments raise money to provide infrastructure and services to communities:

Councils must document the processes used to raise revenue. These documents are publicly available and include the corporate plan, operational plan, revenue policy, revenue statement and budget, and annual report.

Code of Conduct

A Code of Conduct (PDF, 150KB) outlines how behavioural standards align with the local government principles and assists all councillors in being aware of their obligations as elected representatives.

Under the Code of Conduct, the standards of behaviour are summarised in ‘the three Rs’, being:

Each standard of behaviour includes several examples to guide councillors in complying with the Code of Conduct. By adhering to the behaviours set out in the Code of Conduct, councillors will increase public confidence in local government and its decisions.

The Code of Conduct provides a set of values that describe the types of conduct councillors should demonstrate.

These include:

The Code of Conduct reinforces the four local government principles:

Working as part of a team

Local government decisions are taken by a majority vote of all the elected councillors. Each councillor in the council chamber has an equal vote (even the mayor has a single vote). That means a decision by a majority of votes is considered a decision of local government. In the case of a tied vote, the mayor, acting as chairperson, can exercise a casting vote.

The collective will and decision-making of council is paramount and an individual councillor's views are secondary to the majority view. If you find yourself in the minority on a particular topic, once a majority decision is taken by council, you should not seek to undermine the decision because you did not personally vote in favour of it. If you are in the council chamber and you choose not to vote on a matter you are deemed to have voted in the negative (i.e. against the proposal).

It is important to remember that you are elected to represent the overall public interest of the whole local government area.

Working as a mayor

As mayor you have the same responsibilities that other councillors have, plus additional roles.

In all councils other than the Brisbane City Council, the mayor is the chairperson who presides over the council meetings and is responsible for managing the conduct of the participants at these meetings. Under the City of Brisbane Act 2010, Brisbane City Council appoints a chairperson from its councillors (other than the mayor or deputy mayor) at its first meeting after the office of the chairperson becomes vacant. The chairperson then presides over all meetings of the council.

The mayor is also responsible for:

As mayor, you are the most visible and high-profile councillor in the local government and the person viewed as responsible for the performance of the council.

If you nominate as a mayoral candidate, you cannot nominate as a councillor candidate as well.

How do councillors and staff work together?

The Local Government Act 2009 clearly distinguishes between the roles and responsibilities of the executive (elected councillors) and the administrative (council employees) areas of local government. This is sometimes referred to as the separation of powers.

The primary role of councillors is to focus on policy development and strategic delivery of services in the public interest. Local government decisions are made to direct the operational work and realise the planned goals that are set out in the local government's corporate plan.

Councillors are responsible for:

The internal day-to-day work of the local government is carried out by local government employees under the direction of the chief executive officer.