How to change local government arrangements
Changes can be made to council arrangements in certain circumstances. This page will help you decide if you’re eligible to change your council arrangement and provides details about the change process.
Our process helps ensure any changes result in the best, most financially sustainable, common-sense outcomes, without unnecessary costs to the community.
Council changes should be in the overall public interest. Changes to address concerns with ordinary council decisions, such as level of rates charged or service standards delivered, will not be considered by the department.
The Minister accepts requests for a proposed council change from:
- the community
- one or more councils or
- a state department.
The information on this page applies to councils operating under the Local Government Act 2009. The types of changes available include:
- changes to a council’s name or classification
- changes to the external shared boundary with a neighbouring council
- changes to the number of councillors serving on council
- whether the council should change from divided to undivided representation (or the reverse)
- changes to the divisional boundaries, names of divisions and the number of councillors per division
The processes for progressing changes to Brisbane City Council differ in some cases. However, this information can apply to changes involving Brisbane where the proposals impact on neighbouring councils. Section 18 of the Local Government Act 2009 provides that the Minister may propose a council change. Brisbane City Council may propose changes to its arrangements under the City of Brisbane Act 2010, but any external changes impacting on other councils need to be proposed by the Minister.
Council change process
Step 1 Developing a proposal.
When developing your proposal, you need to detail the proposed change and its public benefit. Most proposals will need to demonstrate support from the community and the affected councils.
Only the Minister may propose a local government change to the Change Commission.
The Local Government Act 2009 requires all changes to council arrangements be assessed by the independent Local Government Change Commission (Change Commission) to determine whether it is in the public interest. The Governor in Council (acting on advice of the Minister) may implement any recommendations of the Change Commission under a regulation. For more information on the Change Commission and its processes go to the Electoral Commission of Queensland’s website.
Step 2 Referral
The Department will assess the proposal for referral to the Change Commission by the Minister to ensure it is consistent with legislative requirements and policy.
The Department will only refer proposals to the Change Commission for independent review if:
- the proposal is required under legislation;
- the proposal is supported by resolution of the affected local government. If the proposal affects more than one local government then all affected local governments must agree to the proposed change and support it by resolution. If not, the proposal may not be referred to the Change Commission;
- the proposal is supported by a reasonable level of community support and the proposal will not adversely affect the sustainability of the affected local government/s.
The Government does not generally support or commit to the creation of new council areas unless extraordinary circumstances exist.
Step 3 Change Commission Assessment
If eligible for referral, the next step is assessment by the independent Change Commission. The Change Commission undertakes a thorough review of the proposal and consults with the relevant local governments on the proposed change’s impacts and decides whether the proposal is in the public interest.
Step 4 Implementation
The final step involves implementation of any recommendations from the Change Commission by regulation.
Preparing a council change proposal
Council’s proposal will be classified as routine, major or significant. The level of detail required in a proposal for a council change will depend on the impacts.
Details to include
Council must clearly set out what is involved in the proposed change and the reasons why the proposed change is considered in the public interest. The more complex the proposed change, the more detail needed.
- A notification of one or more divisions being out of quota only needs to identify those divisions
- A proposal for redrawing the divisional boundaries to ensure each division is within quota requires:
- proposed maps
- details of communities of interests underpinning the new boundaries and
- data on the estimated quotas for each new division.
Demonstrate support for the change
The Change Commission engages with all stakeholders as part of its assessment of eligible proposals. The minimum requirements of support you must demonstrate are:
The following may also need to be demonstrated in the proposal:
- a reasonable level of support from the community and affected councils
- the affected council’s resolution of support
- documented support including petitions, surveys, community meetings and informal polls. Community consultation should be open to all persons directly impacted by the proposed council change. For example, a proposal impacting on an area might involve a survey sent to all properties in the area.
- council are not required to undertake formal plebiscites to demonstrate community support for proposed changes.
What the change will cost councils
Change will involve costs for the council’s impacted and, in some cases, may impact the ongoing financial position of the councils involved. Council must identify the costs, if any, in the proposal. Council are responsible for identifying the potential costs associated with the change and for undertaking the financial analysis required for more complex change proposals.
The timing for council change depends on its complexity. It depends on how long the Change Commission requires to undertake its assessment of the proposal and for us to implement the Change Commission’s recommendations.
In most cases, the department will time the implementation of any change proposals that impact on electoral matters and elected representation of a local government with the next quadrennial local government elections. However, changes that do not impact on elected representation can be implemented earlier in the electoral cycle if appropriate.
The table below sets out the minimum timeframes before a quadrennial local government election for submitting different types of local government change proposals.
These timeframes are estimates only and councils are encouraged to submit their proposals to the Minister for Local Government before these times to increase the likelihood that the process can be completed before the next quadrennial local government elections. However, due to the complexity of the processes involved in reviewing proposals for local government change, the department cannot guarantee that a proposal submitted before the timeframes will be completed in time for a quadrennial local government election.
- Guide to local government proposals ( 203.0 KB)
Last updated: 07 Jun 2023