Independent Review Panel
NSW Coat of Arms

Strengthening Local Communities

Terms of Reference


Following the approach from the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW, the NSW Minister for Local Government appointed a three member panel to develop options to improve the strength and effectiveness of local government in NSW. The review drove key strategic directions identified in the Destination 2036 initiative and supported the broader objectives of the State as outlined in NSW 2021: A Plan to Make NSW Number One (the State Plan).

The panel investigated and identified options for governance models, structural arrangements and boundary changes for local government in NSW, taking into consideration:

  1. ability to support the current and future needs of local communities
  2. ability to deliver services and infrastructure efficiently effectively and in a timely manner
  3. the financial sustainability of each local government area
  4. ability for local representation and decision making; and
  5. barriers and incentives to encourage voluntary boundary changes.

Other considerations

In conducting the review the panel aimed to:

  • Ensure recommendations meet the different nature and needs of regional, rural and metropolitan communities.
  • Consult widely with the broader community and key stakeholders.
  • Take into account the work completed, and future work to be completed, under the Destination 2036 initiative.
  • Take into account the broader interests of the State including as outlined in the State Plan.
  • Consider the experiences of other jurisdictions in both the nature and implementation of local government reform.
  • Take into account the Liberal-Nationalís 2011 election policy of no forced amalgamations.
To support the above the Panel commissioned appropriate investigations and research consistent with the intent of the review.

Destination 2036

Destination 2036 Action Plan

The Destination 2036 Action Plan was released by the Minister for Local Government the Hon Don Page MP, on 5 June 2012. It refers a number of actions to the Panel for its investigation and identification of options to strengthen local government in NSW.

The following actions were referred to the Panel:

Key actions

  • 2a Develop options and models to enhance collaboration on a regional basis through ROCs
  • 2b Undertake research into innovation and better practice in Local Government in NSW, Australia and internationally
  • 5b Examine current local government revenue system to ensure the system is contemporary, including rating provisions and other revenue options
  • 8a Examine the pros and cons of alternative governance models
  • 8b Research and develop alternative structural models, identifying their key features and assessing their applicability to NSW
  • 8c Identify barriers and incentives to encourage the voluntary amalgamation or boundary adjustment of councils
  • 9a Identify those functions that are clearly State or Local Government responsibility, those that cannot be readily defined and those that have been legislated/regulated as core functions
    The full Destination 2036 Action Plan can be found here


  • Inquiries regarding the Local Government Review, contact the Division of Local Government at