Federalism and local government in Queensland

Berbudeau, C. M. T. (1971). Federalism and local government in Queensland M.A. Thesis, School of Political Science and International Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Berbudeau, C. M. T.
Thesis Title Federalism and local government in Queensland
School, Centre or Institute School of Political Science and International Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1971
Thesis type M.A. Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Total pages 207
Language eng
Subjects 360101 Australian Government and Politics
750603 Federalism in Australia
Formatted abstract
      This thesis is concerned with the relationships between the first and third levels of government in Queensland, the federal Commonwealth Government and local authorities, the cities of Brisbane and Townsville in particular. The topic is one of considerable interest in Europe, and comparative material is drawn from West Germany to show a more elaborate and developed model of federal-local relations. But because of the lack of population and financial resources of individual local authorities in Australia, local government as a level of government has been conspicuously weaker than in other federal systems and the pattern of relations described here is haphazard and badly under-developed.

      Chapter I describes the establishment of local government in Queensland, and sets out the powers, functions and resources acquired by local authorities; all are limited. Local authorities are closely supervised and curtailed in their responsibilities by the State Government, but Greater Brisbane, the sole Australian state capital to be organised as a single government unit, has a somewhat different position. Appendices set out the financial resources of Brisbane and Townsville, and a newspaper article by a former Premier describing trends in State-local financial relations.

      Chapter II concerns non-formal matters. Mr E.G. Whitlam has shown concern for the problems of local authorities, and set out a programme for the A.L.P. to follow. However the Commonwealth Government, and Australian public opinion, are much less concerned with urban and local government problems. What concern is shown by the public turns on parochial issues. An appendix contrasts broad participation in the traditional New England town meeting.

      Chapter III reports a number of case studies and typical areas of Commonwealth-local relations. One, building an Army hose in Townsville, shows how weak a local authority is in the face of the Commonwealth Government. A second, post office matters, shows how spasmodic Commonwealth-local contacts are. The third concerns loan policies where the local authorities are badly disadvantaged by direct dealings between the Commonwealth and the State Government. The fourth, road building, is an area where there is a long history of Commonwealth-state relations bearing very closely on local authority interests, but with the urban authorities still badly disadvantaged. The fifth, decentralization policy, is one of relative neglect of action by the Commonwealth. Comparative material on inter-level relations from West Germany shows that much more can be done to strengthen local authorities, with Berlin a prime example. Appendices provide a statement on Commonwealth-local relations drawn up by the Commonwealth Treasury and, a critique of Commonwealth road aid by the Brisbane City Council.

      The concluding chapter considers the problem of political leadership for local authorities, and shows that the strong role of a popularly-elected Mayor when coupled with a strong personality as is the case with Lord Mayor Clem Jones of Brisbane, whilst contrary to the best democratic traditions, may give local government a vitality which is necessary if it is effectively to deal with the other levels of government. It may be particularly appropriate where there is no provision for formal contacts as between the Commonwealth and the local authority.
Keyword Local government -- Queensland
Federal-city relations -- Queensland
Municipal government -- Queensland
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