In Australia, around 537 Councils attend to a range of community needs. The majority of Councils (60 – 70%) are regional or rural, and they can differ greatly in size. For instance, ‘…the largest local government authority by population is the Brisbane City Council with 1,052,458 residents (and) …the largest council by area is the Shire of East Pilbara in WA covering 371,696 square kilometres.’1
Councils spend in excess of $32 billion each year providing services to community residents and employ around 188 900 staff.
Local government revenue comes from three main sources; rates, user charges and grants from Federal and state/territory governments. Local government assets have a net worth of more than $333 billion (2012-13)2.
The Australian Local Government Association advises3 that roles and responsibilities of Councils vary by state, and include functions such as:
- infrastructure and property services, including local roads, bridges, footpaths, drainage, waste collection and management
- provision of recreation facilities such as parks, sports fields and stadiums, golf courses, swimming pools, sport centres, halls, camping grounds and caravan parks
- health services such as water and food inspection, immunisation services, toilet facilities, noise control, meat inspection and animal control.
Councils are required under various procurement guidelines and legislation to tender when entering into a contract for services (such as security). When tendering, Councils are required to act in the best interests of the Australian public. They must be open, transparent and accountable in their dealings, ensure they promote fairness, and obtain the best value for public monies4. This does not necessarily mean the lowest price, but instead considering all aspects of a tender bid such as reliability, level of service, experience as well as cost.
- Local government page on the Australia.gov website
- About AGLA page on the Australian Local Government Association website
- Fact and figures on local governments in Australia page on the Australian Local Government Association website
- Tendering Guidelines for NSW Local Government page on the NSW Office for Local Government website