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Appendix F : Australian Classification of Local Governments

The Australian Classification of Local Governments (ACLG) was first published in September 1994 and has proved a useful way to categorise local governments across Australia.

The local governments included in the classification system are those that receive general purpose financial assistance grants as defined under the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995. Therefore, bodies, declared by the Commonwealth Minister on the advice of the State Minister to be local governing bodies for the purposes of the Act, are included in the ACLG. These include community councils. However, county councils, regional councils and the Australian Capital Territory are excluded.

The classification system involves three steps. Each step allocates a prefix (letter/s of the alphabet) to develop a three-letter identifier for each class of local government (there are 22 categories). So, for example, a medium-sized council in a rural agricultural area would be classified as RAM - rural, agricultural, medium. If it was remote, however, it would be classified as RTM. Table F.1 provides information on the structure of the classification system.

Table F.2 provides details of the number of councils in existence during 2000-01, by ACLG category and by State and table F.3 provides a full listing of all councils by classification group.

Local government grants commissions do not take the ACLG classification of a council into account when determining the level of general purpose grant. Councils are, however, grouped by ACLG in the National Report (see appendixes D and E) to help compare grant outcomes with other similarly classified councils.

Under current arrangements, the local government grants commission in each State and the Northern Territory consults with the State Local Government Department and Local Government Association and advises of any changes to classifications in their jurisdiction. Changes to a classification are published each year in the National Report - changes to council classifications since 30 June 2000 are at table F.4.


Developers of the system recognised that, with so many different types of local government in Australia, and with changing population distribution patterns, there will be occasions where a council's profile does not fully match the characteristics of the class into which it has been placed. When this occurs, a local government may be reallocated to a classification that more accurately reflects its circumstances. In the event, less than a dozen councils have been reallocated over the period since 1994 and some of those, such as Surf Coast in Victoria, were in transition to being fully in a new classification because of population growth.

The original report of the Steering Committee for the ACLG recommended that the classification system be fully reviewed every five years with a revision due in 1999. A review by the Department of Transport and Regional Services commenced in April 2001 for consideration, at its next meeting, by the Local Government Joint Officers Group.

Further details of the classification system can be found in the original report on the ACLG (Department of Housing and Regional Development, 1994).

Table F.1: Structure of the classification system

Table F.2: Number of councils by ACLG by category and by State, 2000-01

Table F.3: ACLG category listing of local governments by State, 2001

Table F.4: Changes in ACLG category for 2000-01: reason for change

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