The Department of Local Government [II] was established on or about 8 June 1944 following the creation of the separate portfolio of Local Government. (1) The Department performed the role of monitoring and regulating local government including:
administration of legislation, regulations, ordinances and by-laws;
Electricity distribution and regulation;
Loan government finances including loans;
Alteration of boundaries;
Local government area amalgamations, name changes, creation of new areas;
establishment and alterations of wards and ridings;
appointment of administrators.
reporting to parliament regarding significant business of local government.
Municipalities and Shires were, however, independent bodies elected by their constituents and range of functions within their juridictions which were bestowed upon them by the Local Government Act, 1919 as amended.
In 1963 the Local Government Boundaries Commission was established to investigate boundary alterations for the Minister, and make recommendations subject to ministerial approval. This function was removed from the Department of Local Government until July 1980 when the Commission lapsed.
The Land and Valuation Court dealt with appeals against decisions of councils on building and subdivision applications until 1959 when three boards were constituted under the Local Government Act. The Country Board of Appeal, the Cumberland, Newcastle, and Wollongong Board of Appeal, and the Board of Subdivision Appeals heard these cases until 1972. The Local Government Department provided both senior departmental officers as chairpersons and staff for the Board's secretariats. The Local Government Appeals Tribunal was constituted by the Local Government (Appeals) Amendment Act (No. 78 1971), which commenced on 1 September 1972.
On 3 March 1967 the administration of the Height of Buildings Act 1912-1957 was transferred from the Chief Secretary to the Minister for Local Government who then allocated it to the State Planning Authority. The Height of Buildings (Amendment) Act, 1967 (Act No. 47 1967), replaced the Representative of the Chief Secretary's Department on the Height of Buildings Advisory Committee with a representative of the State Planning Authority and abolished the representation of the Department of Local Government on the Committee. (3)
On 1 October 1967 the Local Government (Control of Cemeteries) Amendment Act , 1966 (Act No. 52 1966) charged Councils with the care, control and management of public cemeteries within their areas , other than those included in Schedule Eleven to the Local Government Act, 1919. (4) A new Ordinance No. 68 for "Cemeteries and Burials" was proclaimed on 7 June 1968 applying to all areas and prescribing a new scale of maximum fees to be charged by councils in connection with cemeteries under their control. (5)
The general scheme for the relief of unemployment due to drought commenced in September 1965 and terminated at the end of September 1968. A modified scheme continued to operate in the South Coast, Monaro and Cobar Districts until 31 May 1969. The schemes involved the distribution of funds to local councils and other authorities for job creation and were administered by an Inter-Departmental Committee chaired firstly by the Chief Inspector of Local Government Accounts and, subsequently, the Deputy Chief Inspector of Local Government Accounts. (6)
A scheme for the relief of unemployment in non-metropolitan areas due to the depressed state of the rural economy commenced in mid-December 1971 through Commonwealth funding, which was again granted in February 1972. The Chief Inspector of Local Government Accounts chaired an Inter Departmental Committee in charge of funds distribution while the Department administered the scheme employing 5,656 persons. (7)
From 2 August 1977 the new portfolio of the Ministry of Power took over the Local Government Department's role in facilitating energy use and enforcing gas purity standards under the Gas and Electricity Acts. This involved the transfer of twenty-four members of the Department's Gas Engineering Branch to the Mines Department. (8) In August 1976 the responsibility for urban planning was transferred from the Minister for Local Government to the Minister for Planning and Environment following a rearrangement of portfolios. (9)
By 1977 the Department consisted of three major branches - General Administration, Building and Health and Inspection of Local Government Accounts.
The General Administration branch administered the Local Government Act, 1919 concerning
the constitution of councils;
membership of councils;
alteration of boundaries and local government areas;
division of local government areas into wards and ridings; and
dismissal of councils.
The branch also administered the provisions of the Act in relation to:
council meetings and business;
public reserves and parks;
roads (including kerbing and guttering, obstruction, condition of roads, light traffic thoroughfares, and closure of roads);
littering in public places;
advertisements and advertising structures;
straying and impounded stock and pounds;
subdivision of land;
dog problems and registration;
rates and fees of councils; and
declaration of noxious plants.
The branch was also responsible to see that council staff were qualified to hold positions. It also examined and processed councils' applications for :
approval to resume land or easements over land;
lease council-owned property;
sell drainage reserves;
surrender land to the Crown or dredge and reclaim land subject to tidal waters.
The Building and Health branch was responsible for monitoring building regulations; sewerage and water supply in buildings on private land and promotion of public health, safety and convenience particularly in relation to
barbers and hairdressers;
meat carriage and delivery;
keeping of animals on premises;
regulation of cemeteries owned by councils and burials;
swimming pool safety; and
Senior Citizen Centre grants.
The branch for the Inspection of Local Government Accounts inspected the accounts of councils and the internal organisation and management of council offices. It also granted allocations to councils for borrowing money and the approved applications of councils to borrow in addition to overseeing accounting practices of Councils. (10)
On 6 November 1981 the branches of the Department of Local Government were abolished and added to the newly established Department of Local Government and Lands. (11)
(1) NSW Government Gazette 8 June 1944 p. 984
(2) Summary of Department of Local Government report for the period 1st July, 1940 to 30th June, 1951 in NSW Parliamentary Papers 1950-51-52 Vol. 3 p 113- 201
(3) Annual Report of the Department of Local Government for the year ended 30 June 1968 in the Parliamentary Papers 1968-69 Vol. 3 page 1014.
(4) See also Local Government (Control of Cemeteries) Amendment Act (No. 52 1966) Section 452L. (e).
(5) Annual Report of the Department of Local Government for the year ended 30 June 1968 in the Parliamentary Papers 1968-69 Vol. 3 page 1029.
(6) Annual Report of the Department of Local Government for the year ended 30 June 1969 in the Parliamentary Papers 1969-70-71 Vol. 6 page 194.
(7) Annual Report of the Department of Local Government for the year ended 30 June 1972 in the Parliamentary Papers 1972-73 Vol. 3 page 1019.
(8) Annual Report of the Department of Local Government for the year ended 30 June 1973 in the Parliamentary Papers 1973-73 Vol. 2 page 471.
(9) Annual Report of the Department of Local Government for the year ended 30 June 1977 in the Parliamentary Papers 1976-77-78 Vol. 8 page 1183.
(10) NSW Government Directory, 1977 p. 195-197
(11) NSW Government Gazette, 6 November 1981, p.5751.