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There are three levels of Government in Australia:

  • Federal
  • State
  • Local

The State Government makes laws which govern the powers of Local Government. Most of these powers are outlined in the Local Government Act which contains information on how Councils are established, how elections should be run, how and when councils should meet, how rates are to be charged, how councils can spend money and what things councils can do.

Like all councils, The City of Holdfast Bay has responsibilities under the Public and Environmental Health Act, Development Act, and Dog and Cat Management Act. The Council also has the power to make its own regulations and by-laws.

Local Government

Local Government exists to provide a representative, informed and responsible decision-maker in the interests of developing the community and its resources in a socially just and environmentally sustainable way. It also ensures a responsive and effective provider and coordinator of public services and facilities at a local level and represents the interests of a local community to the wider community.

The Functions of a council are to:

  • Provide for the development of its area.
  • Provide services and facilities that benefit the area, its ratepayers and residents and those who resort to it.
  • Protect health.
  • Provide for the welfare, well-being and interests of individuals and groups within the community.
  • Represent and promote the interests of its ratepayers and residents.
  • Establish or support organisations and programs that benefit people in its area or local government.
  • Protect the environment and improve amenity.
  • Provide the infrastructure for industry.
  • Attract commerce, industry and tourism.
  • Act to benefit, improve and develop its area in other ways.
  • Manage, improve and develop resources available to the Council.
  • Perform any other function approved by the Minister.

Mayor, Councillors and Administration staff

The City of Holdfast Bay has a Mayor who is elected by the City’s residents as head of the Council. There are also 12 Councillors (Elected Members), three for each of the four wards in the Council area (a ward is a smaller segment of the Council area). The Council makes decisions on matters which affect the Holdfast Bay community.

Council Administration Staff

The Council also has administration staff. The role of staff is to carry out the decisions of the Elected Members. The Chief Executive Officer is the senior member of the staff and is responsible for seeing that the policies of the Council are implemented.

The Councillor's role

The Councillor's primary role is that of decision-maker as the Elected Members form Council's policy-making body. They set objectives and determine the rates and other directions that are necessary to achieve those objectives.

They must attend Council meetings which are held twice a month. Failure to attend three consecutive ordinary meetings without sufficient cause can result in a Councillor's office being declared vacant. Councillors may also be members of committees. A committee receives reports and makes recommendations to Council meetings on the matters with which it has dealt.


Because Local Government is community government, it needs community participation. As the whole community cannot participate directly, 13 people (the Mayor and 12 Councillors) are elected to represent the Holdfast Bay community. The community selects its representatives by voting on election for those candidates it believes will best represent its interests. Elections are held every four years on the second Saturday in November, when the entire Council is up for election.

Who can become a Councillor?

Anyone over the age of 18 who is enrolled on the Local Government Voters Roll and is an elector for the Holdfast Bay area can become a Councillor unless they are a Council employee, a criminal or bankrupt. As long as they meet these requirements, anyone can stand for election regardless of qualification, religion, gender or employment.

It is important that anyone interested in becoming a Councillor fully understands the role and responsibility of an Elected Member. They must become aware of the needs of the community, represent the electors and be prepared to initiate new Council policies and activities. A considerable time commitment is expected as a Councillor must also attend a variety of meetings and assist electors in their dealings with Council and council staff.