Agency Information Guide
Agency Information Guide
The City of Sydney’s agency information guide describes who we are and what we do. It also describes how members of the public, community organisations, the media and government agencies can interact with us.
Structure and functions of Council
The Sydney local government area covers approximately 26.15 square kilometres and is home to more than 183,000 people. The City of Sydney Council is constituted under the Local Government Act 1993 and the City of Sydney Act 1988.
As a capital city council, the City of Sydney is responsible for the commercial, financial and cultural hub of Sydney, while at the same time servicing and enhancing its local precincts and villages. The City attracts up to one million visitors every day; to work, shop, play, be educated, conduct business or see the sights.
The City’s landmark Sustainable Sydney 2030 program is the driving force behind everything we do. It supports our provision of a range of services, programs and initiatives on behalf of residents, businesses and visitors and advances Sydney’s position as Australia’s premier city.
Further information about Sydney can be found on the website.
The City of Sydney is led by the Chief Executive Officer who is responsible for the efficient operation of the City and for ensuring implementation of Council’s decisions.
The City is made up of nine divisions to assist the Chief Executive Officer in the exercise of the functions contained in section 335 of the Local Government Act 1993. Each division is headed by a Director responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs to achieve the City’s vision.
Local government and the public
As a service organisation, the majority of the City’s activities have an impact on the public. The following is an outline of how the broad functions of Council can affect the public.
The City provides services and facilities to the public. These include community health, recreation, education and information services. We also provide services related to environmental protection, waste removal and disposal, land and property, industry and tourism development, civil infrastructure, maintenance and construction.
The City regulates developments and buildings to ensure that they meet certain requirements affecting the amenity and safety of the community; this includes issuing approvals, orders and building certificates. Members of the public must be aware of, and comply with, such regulations.
Revenue functions affect the public directly in that revenue from rates and other charges paid by the public is used to fund services and facilities provided to the community. These functions include levying rates, charges, fees as well as borrowings and investments.
Administrative functions have an impact on the community through the efficiency and effectiveness of the services provided. Our administrative functions include employment of staff and development of management plans, financial and performance reporting.
Enforcement functions will only affect those members of the public who are in breach of legislation. This includes matters such as the non payment of rates and charges, environmental planning offences and parking offences. The City may issue penalty notices or initiate proceedings for various breaches.
Participation in local government
Local government in Australia is based on the principle of representative democracy. This means that people elect representatives to their local Council to make decisions on their behalf. In New South Wales, local government elections are held every four years.
The City of Sydney is represented by a publicly elected Council that is responsible for providing leadership and vision for the city. The Council consists of 10 Councillors, including the Lord Mayor. The role of Council is to:
- represent the community and advocate its viewpoint
- formulate policy and make decisions that will benefit the community as a whole
- oversee the implementation of policy and review the performance of the organisation
- approve the Council budget and key expenditure items.
Members of the public are encouraged to discuss local community concerns with their elected representatives. Please go to the Councillors page for further information including contact details.
There are many ways to participate in forming local government policy. Members of the public are encouraged to participate and provide input to issues considered by Council. The City of Sydney has community consultation meetings which help keep residents up to date with local issues of concern. The meetings are held at different venues and provide an excellent opportunity to meet and talk with local Councillors and City staff. Dates are listed in advance in each edition of the City of Sydney’s community newsletter, and local residents are notified a week before each meeting.
Councillors serve on Committees, which deal with various areas of responsibility. Residents, ratepayers and interested parties are invited to attend and address Committee meetings on items listed on Committee agendas.
The current Committees are:
- Central Sydney Planning Committee
- Corporate, Finance, Properties and Tenders Committee
- Environment Committee
- Cultural and Community Committee
- Planning and Development Committee
- Local Pedestrian, Cycling and Traffic Calming Committee
Members of the public wishing to address a Committee meeting should read the guidelines for speakers at Council Committees.
Council Information and access to information
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) provides the public with a general right of access to information held by the City as long as it does not infringe privacy laws, other laws or there are public interest considerations against disclosure.
A range of information about the City and its operations is available on the City’s register of Open Access Information. This includes:
A range of policy documents are published on the Council Policy Register.
Information about Council and Council Meetings
- City of Sydney Code of Meeting Practice
- Agendas, minutes and business papers for Council and Committee meetings
- Councillors’ expenses policy
- A link to the Register of Councillors’ declarations of disclosures of political donations (in accordance with s328A of the Local Government Act 1993).
- City of Sydney Code of Conduct
- Council’s annual reports
- Annual financial reports
- Equal Employment Opportunity management plan
- Council’s land register
- Register of investments
- Register of delegations
- Register of graffiti removal work (in accordance with s13 of the Graffiti Control Act 2008)
- Register of Councillor voting on planning matters (in accordance with s375A of the Local Government Act 1993).
- Graffiti removal work.
Development and Planning
- Environmental planning instruments and development control plans
- Development applications (within the meaning of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979) and associated documents.
- Leases and licenses for use of public land classified as community land
- Register of contracts.
How to Access Government Information
Under the GIPA Act there is an underlying rationale to encourage greater accessibility to government information for members of the public. Information may be available on the City’s website, via informal release or via a formal access application in accordance with Sections 7-9 of the GIPA Act.
Please visit our Access to Information page for more information.
Public interest test
We must decide whether it is in the public’s interest to disclose information that has been requested. Access will be granted if the public interest in favour of disclosure outweighs the public interest against disclosure (the ‘public interest test’). If an access application has been refused, there is a general right to seek an internal or an external review of the decision.
We will endeavour to release information in response to an informal request subject to the public interest test and reasonable conditions. However, it may be necessary to submit a formal access application if the information sought:
- is of a sensitive nature that requires careful weighing of the considerations in favour of and against disclosure
- contains personal or confidential information about a third party that requires consultation
- would involve a considerable amount of time and resources to assemble.
In accordance with section 54 of the GIPA Act, Council must consult where the information requested concerns:
- personal information
- business interests
- research that has been carried out
- the affairs of another State or the Commonwealth government.
Consultation will take place if the information is such that the consultee may have reasonable concerns about disclosure and those concerns are relevant to the public interest test.
Office of the Privacy Commissioner
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has been established to oversee the GIPA Act. The OPC provides information about the right to access information and can be contacted via:
Last updated: Wednesday, 24 April 2013