Local government

Many of the everyday services we all rely on are provided by local councils. We have been overseeing complaints about councils for over 35 years, and in that time we have developed a good understanding of the unique issues and challenges of local government.

What you can complain about to us

We handle complaints about local councils and help make sure councils act fairly and reasonably. We can look at the conduct of councillors and council employees and the administrative conduct of the council itself.

The types of matters that you can complain to us about include the local council:

  • failing to comply with proper procedures or the law
  • failing to enforce development consent conditions
  • failing to act on complaints about unauthorised work and illegal activities
  • failing to notify affected people before certain decisions are made
  • failing to comply with tendering procedures
  • providing unreasonable, discriminatory, or inconsistent treatment
  • failing to reply to correspondence
  • misusing secrecy provisions

We can also investigate the administrative conduct of accredited certifiers if they fail to act fairly and reasonably on complaints. However, the professional conduct of accredited certifiers in relation to their professional judgement and technical decision making is subject to scrutiny by the Building Professionals Board.

If you decide to lodge a complaint with us, remember that the Ombudsman cannot order the local council to do something or to change a decision it has made. Our role is to make recommendations that promote fairness, integrity and practical reforms.

What you cannot complain about to us

We do not usually investigate council decisions that involve setting rate, adopting particular policies or allocating resources, or the merits of particular development applications. It is best to lobby the council or councillors directly if you are unhappy about these sorts of decisions.

We have no power to amend or revoke development consents. Generally there needs to be some issue of public interest or evidence of abuse in the determination processes for us to investigate these matters.

We usually do not become involved in decisions for compensation as councils carry their own insurance and matters of legal liability must be determined by a court.

We have developed the following resources to assist the public when dealing with councils.

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