This book offers a general introduction to and analysis of the history, theory and public policy of Australian local government systems. Conceived in an international comparative context and primarily from within the discipline of political studies, it also incorporates elements of economics and public administration. Existing research tends to conceptualise Australian local government as an element of public policy grounded in an ‘administrative science’ approach. A feature of this approach is that generally normative considerations form only a latent element of the discussions, which is invariably anchored in debates about institutional design rather than the normative defensibility of local government. The book addresses this point by providing an account of the terrain of theoretical debate alongside salient themes in public policy.