The Department of Local Government and Co-operatives was established on 1 July 1991 when the Registry of Co-operatives was amalgamated with the Department of Local Government as a result of the redistribution of portfolios following the 1991 election.(1) The Department was established to provide a policy and legislative framework for the local government and co-operatives sectors.(2)
Amalgamation of the Registry and Department led to changes in the executive structure, and the Department now consisted of a Director General, Deputy Director General, and three Directors. A review of common services was undertaken and some streamlining was implemented.
The Registry of Co-operatives regulated and supervised State-based financial institutions. The Co-operatives (Amendment) Act 1989 was proclaimed on 12 June 1992, allowing local co-operative societies to amalgamate with foreign co-operative societies. On 30 June 1992, responsibility for the administration of the Credit Union Act 1969, the Permanent Building Societies Act 1967, and the Friendly Societies Act 1989 was transferred from the Department to the recently created NSW Financial Institutions Commission (FINCOM). In 1994, thirty-six new co-operatives were registered in New South Wales.(3)
By 1992, local government employed more than 40,000 people and there were almost 2,000 councillors elected to 177 local councils. In the early 1990s a review of legislation governing council operations was undertaken because no such review had occurred since the passing of the Local Government Act in 1919. The review led to the passing of the Local Government Act 1993 which took effect from 1 July.(4)
In 1993 a number of new Local Government Acts were passed by the Legislature, they included the: Local Government Act (No.30 1993), Local Government (Consequential Provisions) Act (No.32 1993), Impounding Act (No.31 1993), Roads Act (No.33 1993), Traffic (Parking Regulation) Amendment Act (No.34 1993).
The Local Government Act (No.41, 1919) and over 100 ordinances were repealed on 1 July 1993 by the Local Government Act, 1993 (Act No 30, 1993) with nine new regulations implemented in their place covering - Development Approvals, Elections, Financial Management, Meetings, Orders, Penalty Notice Offences, Rates and Charges, Tendering and Water, Sewerage and Drainage.(5) Councils were no longer legally required to employ a person with prescribed qualifications for offices such as a town clerk, surveyor, or health inspector. Each council was able to determine its organisational structure, the competencies required by staff, and questions of service delivery. The Local Government Department's 'examination role' was abolished.(6)
On 6 April 1995 the Registry of Co-operatives was transferred to the Department of Consumer Affairs. The Department of Local Government and Co-operatives became the Department of Local Government.(7)
1. Annual Report of the Department of Local Government and Co-operatives for 1991-92, p2.
2. Annual Report of the Department of Local Government and Co-operatives for 1992/93, p3.
3. Annual Report of the Department of Local Government and Co-operatives for 1993/94, pxii.
4. Annual Report of the Department of Local Government and Co-operatives for 1992/93, p2.
5. Annual Report of the Department of Local Government and Co-operatives for the year ended 30 June 1993, p12.
6. Laffin Martin, & Painter, Martin (Eds) Reform and Reversal: Lessons from the Coalition Government in New South Wales 1988-1995, MacMillan Education Australia, Melbourne 1995, p88.
7. NSW Government Gazette, Special Supplement, 5 April 1995, p1867.