The Ideal Remit of Local Government

  • Joseph DrewEmail author


In many instances the remit of local government is in discord with its legitimate mandate as prescribed under natural law philosophy. The discord is due both to local government exceeding its legitimate mandate in some areas, and neglecting important functions elsewhere. When local government exceeds its legitimate mandate the dignity of persons and persons in association is diminished. When it fails to perform functions that rightly should be assigned to it, then the common good suffers. The Principle of Subsidiarity provides important guidance on how to balance dignity with the common good and thus avoid dangerous concentrations in power and competence. In this chapter I first provide a little more detail on the dangers posed to society and the person when the principle is neglected. I then make a case for divestment of functions where local government has exceeded its legitimate mandate. Following this I make a case for greater decentralisation of other government functions and hence an extension of the remit for many local government systems. Thereafter I consider the provision of education as an example of how implementation of the Principle of Subsidiarity might be expected to lead to better outcomes. I conclude the chapter with a discussion on the importance of a complementary reform agenda to resist the inevitable efforts of ideologues and special interest groups who will always be tempted to adjust the remit of local government to seek their interests rather than the long-run interests of the people.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Technology SydneyMoonbiAustralia

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