Local economic development is rapidly becoming a major focus of public policy in Australia. As a tier of government closest to the people, local government has the best chance and potential to identify and capitalise on local assets.
This paper reviewed the “essentials" of Australian local governments in terms of their responsibilities, characteristics, and development. The impact of government policies on economic development and the 1 k between regional and national economic development policies were then explored briefly. This was followed by a look at the roles of local government in economic development together with all the "player” involved in the local development process. While there might be different strategies and initiatives that local authorities could take, tactual involvement of each local government in economic development depended on a lot of factors. Some existing data were reviewed here. The relationships between spheres of government and the constraints on local government in economic development were summarised. This showed the roles that local government could play in the local economic development process according to differed different circumstances.
There is an increase amount of literature and reports available on local government functions and possible local development initiatives. Somehow, there is no comprehensive picture of local government's involvement in economic development. Hence, a simple questionnaire survey & was conducted for the Queensland local authorities, investigating the economic planning and some important categories of economic activities in which the local governments had participated in the last five years.
The survey found that very few local governments in Queensland had adopted an official plan for the region's activities. Commissioned consultant studies was the most popular means of creating the plan while a mixture of other methods were used by the regional development boards. The diversity in the actual activities engaged by local governments was significant. However, most respondents had looked at the tourism industry as a possible area for development. The different levels of involvement among local governments in economic development reflected the differences in circumstances (e.g. physical locations, population, staffing resources, financial resource capacity, etc.) of different local governments.
The paper concluded by looking at the future directions, opportunities, "prerequisites", recommendations, possible networking, new initiatives and better policy coordination for a better and more successful approach to local economic development.