New Century Local Government

Commonwealth Perspectives

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Democratic decentralisation through ‘conventional’ institutions of local government is facing increasing challenges, whether from financial pressures, questions of representativeness, difficult central-local relations and from a perhaps growing belief that local government has failed to realise its potential and there may be better ways of achieving societal goals. It is clear there is need to contemplate quite radical change to ensure local government becomes or remains ‘fit for purpose’.

This collection of papers illustrates the way in which the role of local government is evolving in different parts of the Commonwealth and provides practical examples of new local government at work. It showcases emerging practice, and highlights success stories from new ways of working and challenges confronting local government in both developed and developing countries.

New Century Local Government makes a very valuable contribution to helping understand the changing role of local government, and will ensure that practitioners are up-to-date with the most innovative initiatives in local government planning and administration.



The Evolving Role of Mayors: An Australian Perspective

This final chapter1 revisits some of the principal themes of this book through the lens of the role of mayors. In so doing it reflects Quirk’s (2011: 137) view that: Elected politicians set the tone for public institutions. The style and substance of their leadership is central to how public institutions are viewed by their staff, their service users and their stakeholders. Their conduct and their behaviour set the atmosphere, the microclimate in which the institution functions. Their role in governing the institution is vital – they lead, they speak for the public, and they choose direction and strategy. They set the intent of policy and they also choose the instrument of policy. They decide what is to be done and often how it is to be done.


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