The role of councils

There are 3 levels of government in Australia – federal, state and local (councils).

The NSW parliament makes laws which regulate the role, powers and responsibilities of local councils. The Local Government Act outlines:

  • how councils are established
  • how elections are run
  • how and when councils meet
  • how rates are charged
  • how councils spend money
  • what councils can do. 

Like all councils, the City of Sydney has responsibilities under other NSW laws including the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, the Public Health Act and the Companion Animals Act.

Council also has the authority to make its own regulations and by-laws.

Councils exist to:

  • Provide a representative, informed and responsible decision-making body.
  • Develop the local community and its resources in a socially just and environmentally responsible way.
  • Ensure local public services and facilities respond effectively to community needs.

City of Sydney functions

  • Provide for development in the local area.
  • Provide for local services and facilities that benefit ratepayers, residents and visitors.
  • Protect health and provide for the welfare, wellbeing and interests of the local community.
  • Represent and promote the interests of ratepayers and residents.
  • Establish and support organisations and programs targeting the local community.
  • Protect the environment and improve local amenity.
  • Attract and provide infrastructure for commerce, tourism and industry.
  • Manage, improve and develop resources available to Council.

How we make decisions

The decisions we make are first discussed at a standing committee before a final decision is made at Council. These committees meet at least 10 times a year in the Council Chamber at Sydney Town Hall:

  • Corporate, Finance, Properties and Tenders Committee
  • Cultural and Community Committee
  • Environment Committee
  • Local Pedestrian, Cycling and Traffic Calming Committee
  • Planning and Development Committee

The Central Sydney Planning Committee and the Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee do not refer decisions to Council.

Follow Council on Twitter

Minutes from each Council meeting are made available after each meeting.

You can also keep up to date on Council decisions during meetings by following @cos_meetings on Twitter.

Please note: This Twitter account is an automated feed, created to provide updates on decisions.

Questions and other enquiries should be directed to

Have your say

Members of the public can attend committee meetings. You are also welcome to attend Council meetings but you cannot address Councillors. Please read the guidelines for speakers to find out how you can be heard by Council.


We welcome petitions for people to let us know their concerns. To find out more, please read our petition guidelines, available for download below.


Profiles and roles of the City's Lord Mayor and Councillors.


The functions of our committees.


When the committees and Council are next scheduled to meet.


The City is a great place to work.

Welcome to Country

How to organise a Welcome to Country for your gathering.

Last updated: Tuesday, 6 January 2015