Role of Council

1. Overview

Like all Councils, the City of Burnside has some 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 manner;
  • ensure a responsive and effective provider and co-ordinator of public services and facilities at the local level;
  • provide an initiator and promoter of effort within a local community; and
  • represent the interests of a local community to the wider community.

4. The functions of a Council include 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 generally;
  • 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; and
  • any other function approved by the Minister.

5. Mayor, Councillors, Elections & Meetings

Burnside Council has a Mayor who is the elected head of the Council and is elected by all residents. There are also 12 Councillors, two for each of the six wards in the Council area (a ward is a smaller segment of the Council area). This Council makes decisions on matters which affect the Burnside community.

The Council consists of Elected Members and administration staff. The staff 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.

6. Community Government

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 Burnside community.

The community selects its representatives on election day by casting postal votes 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.

7. Who Can Vote?

Residents and ratepayers who are over 18 years of age and on the council voters roll are eligible to vote for the elected members. Unlike Federal and State Government elections, voting is not compulsory in Council elections.

8. 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 Burnside 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 but it is important that they fully understand 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 the Councillor must also attend a variety of meetings and assist electors in their dealings with Council and Council staff.

9. The Councillor's Role

The Councillor's role is primarily one of decision-maker as the Elected Members form Council's policy-making body. They set objectives and determine the rates and other directions 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.

10. Council and Committee/Panel Meetings

Burnside has 4 Committees/Panels.

  • Community, Development & Heritage
  • Infrastructure & Environment
  • Audit
  • Development Assessment Panel

Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. The Infrastructure & Environment Committee meets on the second Tuesday of each month, and the Community, Development & Heritage Committee on the fourth. The Audit Committee meets bimonthly on the first Tuesday. The Development Assessment Panel meets on the first Tuesday of each month.

All of these meetings are open to the public.