The local government areas of New South Wales in Australia have been subject to periodic restructuring by the Government of New South Wales, involving voluntary and involuntary amalgamation of areas. The state government currently classifies local governments into two categories: Areas and Cities. A city is an area that has received city status by proclamation of the Governor. Some areas retain designations they held under prior legislation, even though these titles no longer indicate a legal status. These are:
Municipalities (predominantly inner-city suburban areas and smaller rural towns)
Shires (predominantly rural or outer suburban areas).
Some areas designated since the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) have adopted the title "Region", usually large rural areas dominated by a rural city. Many councils now choose not to use any area title, and simply refer to themselves as councils, e.g. Palerang Council, Burwood Council. The smallest local government area by area in the state is the Municipality of Hunter's Hill.
In October 2013 the New South Wales Government released the findings of an independent review of local government in New South Wales. The review findings entitled Revitalising Local Government examined historical and projected demographic data, financial sustainability, and other measures and projected the long-term viability all local government bodies in the state. Included in the report were 65 recommendations to the Government. The Government released its response to the review findings in September 2014 and then facilitated discussions with certain local government authorities with a view towards merger and/or amalgamation. In April 2015 the NSW Government referred the review findings and its responses to the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to act as the Expert Advisory Panel and to review local council Fit for the Future proposals. Releasing its final report in October 2015, the IPART reviewed submissions from local government authorities and others with a view towards establishing authorities that have the scale and capacity to engage effectively across community, industry and government, are sustainable and efficient, and that effectively manage infrastructure and deliver services for local communities.The IPART found that:
71 per cent of councils in metropolitan Sydney were 'not fit', primarily because councils did not propose a merger despite clear benefits; and
56 per cent of councils in regional NSW were 'not fit', due to not proposing a merger despite clear benefits, ongoing deficits or both.
The IPART proposed a series of council mergers and amalgamation in both metropolitan and regional areas. The NSW Government invited local government authorities to respond by 20 November 2015.
The proposal would see the reduction in the number of councils from 152 to 112. Public response to the proposed amalgamations has largely been negative.
List of all local government areas in New South Wales