Local and State Government

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HWL Ebsworth has one of the largest and oldest local government practices in Australia. We have also formed close relationships with several state government departments and agencies across the country including in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Our team are administrative law specialists and regularly appear in planning tribunals, judicial review proceedings, administrative review proceedings, civil enforcement, prosecutions and land valuation matters for our government clients. We advise state governments on commercial, property, construction, information technology, insurance and procurement matters. We also provide statutory interpretation and general advice work.

We understand the unique role that local governments play in the community, its commitment to strategic development, the environment and accountability to its rate payers. We regularly advise councils on governance issues including code of conduct matters, meetings practice, conflicts of interest, tendering and procurement and access to documents. We have a thorough knowledge of the planning regimes under which councils exercise their powers and duties. We provide advice on strategic planning and the development and drafting of planning instruments and their implications. Our expertise extends across all statutory regimes affecting local government and our lawyers advise on local government planning and environment legislation every day.

In addition to providing council’s with comprehensive planning and local government advice, we have practitioners who are able to advise on asset management, commercial matters, industrial relations, building and infrastructure, and information, communication and technology law.

Click here for information on our Local Government Affiliations.


  • South Australian Government: Advised on the $1.6 billion commercialisation of its land services assets;
  • South Australian Government: Advised on the $427 million sale of the right to operate SA Lotteries to the Tatts Group;
  • Victorian Public Sector Commission: Advised on the establishment of the Victorian Leadership Academy which is a major government initiative for career development of senior public servants in Victoria. We advised on the contractual and privacy protections;
  • New South Wales Government: Represented the Heritage Council of NSW in several judicial review proceedings and Class 1 appeals in the Land & Environment Court of NSW.
  • New South Wales Government: Advised NSW Land and Housing Corporation in relation to an agreement regarding land swap and development of land;
  • Confidential NSW Local Government client: Successfully defended a council when it was prosecuted in the Land and Environment Court by the EPA for pollution of water offences and breaches of its licence to operate a sewerage treatment plant. If convicted, the council could have been liable for a significant six-figure fine. Through effective case management we negotiated the implementation of a remedial action plan rather than the imposition of a hefty financial penalty;
  • Hurstville City Council: Advised on Class 4 civil enforcement proceedings concerning significant unauthorised works, including land clearing and placement of asbestos-contaminated fill, in alleged breach of four separate Acts at 84D Roberts Avenue, Mortdale;
  • Coffs Harbour Council: Advised in relation to an owner initiated acquisition for open space land. Council were successful in the proceedings as the Court awarded compensation at a lower amount than that determined by the valuer general.  The Council successfully defended a s56A and Court of Appeal in this matter; and
  • Redland City Council: We acted for Council and Economic Development Queensland in relation to the proposed sale and development of land located at Toondah Harbour as well as Weinam Creek.  The project was valued at $1.3 billion.  Our role included advising the government entities (at a Local and State level) in relation to the sale and/or development of their land in conjunction with the private sector.

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