Losing localism, constraining councillors: why the Northern Territory supershires are struggling

Will Sanders*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    Local government reform in Australia's sparsely settled Northern Territory resulted in the emergence of large, remote area, regional shires in 2008. This paper outlines the history of remote area local government in the Northern Territory since 'self-government' in 1978 and compares these new large supershires with the more dispersed system of local government which preceded them. It argues that the large remote area shires are struggling to be accepted by their predominantly Aboriginal constituencies due to two significant changes in ideas. The first is a loss of the ideas of localism and self-determination, which sustained the previous generation of smaller, dispersed local governments. The second is the rise of the idea that the roles of elected councillors in local government should be constrained and those of appointed staff enhanced. The paper questions the wisdom of both these changes in the particular context of remote area, predominantly Indigenous, local government.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)474-490
    Number of pages17
    JournalPolicy Studies
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


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