University of Tasmania
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Local government reform in Tasmania 1906-1939 : with special reference to the North West Coast

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posted on 2023-05-26, 03:22 authored by Rootes, GL
This thesis examines local government reform in Tasmania primarily between 1906 and 1939. The Local Government Act 1906 gave the state for the first time a comprehensive system of municipal government. This Act arose from the economic pressures placed on the new state government by federation. The government had tried several times to impose a more efficient system on the island, but failed due to an obstinate Legislative Council and strident opposition from local bodies. The 1906 Act was a compromise between the aim of the government for greater economy and efficiency and the desire of local bodies to preserve their existing interests. After the first world war, the Tasmanian municipal system gradually suffered from increasing overheads, lower revenues, and the revolution in motor-transport. This led some municipal councils into financial difficulties in the 1930s. During this decade the state government came under pressure from the Commonwealth government to reform its administrative practices. Faced with some ailing municipalities, the government appointed a Royal Commission in 1939 to review the 1906 Act and suggest some measures of improving the system. The outcome of this process was the lacklustre Local Government Act 1940. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the pressure for such reform and suggest why substantial changes was not forthcoming. Given the large scope of the subject, and with due regard to the limitations on research time and writing space, the focus is on one region, the North West, and, in particular, the Devonport and Leven councils, as case studies in which to draw general conclusions concerning reform in the chosen period. Space has also limited any detailed comparison of Tasmania's expenence during this time with the municipal systems elsewhere in Australia. Chapters one and two give a broad outline of the process that led to the passing of the 1906 Act. Chapter three examines the attachment to the community of interest principle on the North West and its consequences for municipal reform. Chapter four explores regionalism on the North West after the first world war. Chapter five and six examines the stresses put on the municipal system in the post-war period and the government's attempts at reform. The last chapter studies the proceedings and outcome of the 1939 Royal Commission.


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