Local government: Australia’s real economic workhorse?

Roads, rates and rubbish? The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government is exploding myths with Australia’s first, extensive profile of the local government workforce.

Local government is an Australian powerhouse, punching above its weight in terms of its contribution to the nation’s economy and social fabric, particularly in regional, rural and remote Australia.

The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government — based at the University of Technology, Sydney — undertook a major research project to compile Australia’s most extensive data set of the nation’s local government workforce. The purpose of the profile is to support the implementation of the National Local Government Workforce Strategy, prepared for ACELG by Local Government Managers Australia.

The first thing that needs to be said is that local government is a big business. Australia’s 556 local governments employ nearly 200,000 people in a diverse range of roles across the country. Together, Australia’s local governments spend more than $30 billion annually.

Rural and remote Australia

In a number of rural and remote local government areas across Australia, local government is either the top, or one of the top, employers. In these places, local government acts as a primary economic driver through its role at times as the only level of government providing essential day-to-day health, education, transport and community services.

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