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History of Local Government in the NT

History of Local Government in the NT

Despite local government’s relatively short history in the Northern Territory, Darwin City Council preceded self-government (1978) in the Northern Territory by 21 years when it was constituted in 1957.

At the time of self-government in 1978, there were only four local government councils in the Northern Territory being Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.

Local government reforms commenced on 1 July 2008 when the number of councils in the Northern Territory reduced from 59 to 17 and the number of elected members reduced from 560 to just over 150.

Prior to these reforms, over 90% of the land in the Northern Territory, with 16% of the population, was unincorporated. The that existed prior to 2008 often operated as virtual inland islands within unincorporated land.

As of June 2022, around 1.5% of the land and 3% of the population was unincorporated. On 1 July 2022, the City of Palmerston boundary expanded to include previously unincorporated and prescribed areas (Elrundie, Tivendale, Wishart and part of Berrimah, excluding Northcrest). It is expected the July 2023 ABS Local Government Areas data will include these boundary changes and this page will be updated accordingly.

A wide-ranging review of local government was undertaken in 2013 and in 2014 and Local Authorities were established. The Local Authorities were a response to concerns that the 2008 reforms led to a loss of communities’ voices in the planning and delivery of council programs and services in communities.

The Local Government Act 2019 was introduced in 2021 and forms the basis for local government administration today.