The Local Government Act 1993 empowers the Governor to establish county councils by proclamation. The proclamation is the constitution of the county council.
The county council must have a governing body which is responsible for managing the affairs of the county council. The members of the governing body are elected from among the councillors of the constituent councils (Section 390).
The functions of the county council are set out in the proclamation and may comprise “any one or more of the functions of a council under” the Act.
With limited exceptions, including the power to make and levy an ordinary rate, the Local Government Act applies to general purpose county councils and members of county councils in the same way as it applies to councils and councillors.
The method of constitution of a county council is no different to that of other councils. Only the method of election of councillors and the particularity of the functions of county councils differentiates them from general purpose councils. The method of election is similar to collegiate voting and provides indirect election.
The role of a member of a county council is the same as that of a councillor as set out in Section 232 of the Local Government Act which, because of Section 400 of the Act, also applies to members of a county council. Members of the governing body of the county council represent the interests of the constituent council by which they are elected to the county council.