Recasting Leadership Reform in Australian Local Government: A Typology from Political Theory

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Local Government Studies, 2016, 42 (6), pp. 1024 - 1046
Issue Date:
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© 2014 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Changes to elected leadership in Australian local government have seen greater authority assigned to mayors in several jurisdictions. A Discussion Paper recently released under the auspices of the Australian Centre for Excellence in Local Government (ACELG) has recommended further reforms, arguing inter alia that mayors ought to enjoy a personal mandate and a stronger strategic role. This paper places these suggested reforms into context by developing a typology of local government leadership from political theory. We argue that this quadrilateral typology provides a critical portrait of recommendations for stronger leadership which, in this instance, have been transposed from two unitary systems of government (England and New Zealand) to the Australian federal system, without due consideration of the literature examining stronger mayoral roles. It is argued that caution should be exercised when redrafting legislation governing mayoral authority, a process presently underway in New South Wales (NSW).
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