History of the Council
Whadjuk Nyoongar Land
The area of Whadjuk Nyoongar land on which the City of Perth (the City) sits today is just over 19 square kilometres in area (land only) and located on the northern banks of the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River) with over 11 kilometres of river frontage. The City is privileged to be home to sites of cultural and historical significance to the Whadjuk people including Gargatup (Kings Park), Matagarup (Heirisson Island), Pinjar (the lakes — location of the Perth train station and surrounds) and Byerbrup (ridge line linking Gargatup and Matagarup). Traditionally, the Whadjuk Nyoongar people sourced food from the Derbarl Yerrigan and the extensive system of freshwater lakes linking the coast with the escarpment, ensuring Perth played an important role for meeting, travel and trade.
Our City boundaries
Today the City includes the suburbs, or parts thereof, of Crawley, East Perth, Nedlands, Northbridge, Perth and West Perth. On 1 July 2016, the City of Perth local government area expanded to include Kings Park (400 hectares), the University of Western Australia, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, residential and commercial areas around Hampden Road and Broadway, and the Matilda Bay foreshore in Crawley and Nedlands. The City hosts international consulates, State Parliament of Western Australia and key federal and state judicial institutions, and has the largest concentration of jobs, services, education and cultural and leisure activities in Greater Perth. All of these places are home to a rich history, stretching back long before colonisation.
Residents and visitors
The City’s resident population is diverse in its cultures, household and family structures, which all contribute to an interesting and varied community. The City’s current population, which is approximately 26,268, includes approximately 193 residents who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. On a typical weekday, the City attracts around 205,750 workers and visitors to the CBD and over 25,000 to the University of Western Australia and Queen Elizabeth II. The City’s resident population is forecast to grow to 50,000 residents by 2050, representing an additional 25,800 residents in 16,000 new dwellings over the next 34 years. For these and many other reasons, the City plays a unique and important role in contributing to the economic prosperity and quality of life of many Western Australians.
The City of Perth workforce comprises of 750 staff of which two identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The City of Perth main office, Council House, is located at 27-29 St Georges Terrace, Perth, and is home to approximately 500 members of the City’s workforce. The remaining 250 members operate from the City’s community facilities, parks, carparks and depot. All employees have recently participated in an organisation wide culture change program which resulted in new organisational values. The City aims to work towards diversifying its workforce throughout the implementation of the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Throughout the Reflect RAP, the City has committed to researching leading examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and improving the internal culture of the organisation to ensure that the working environment is safe and supportive for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The City of Perth has a distinct leadership role as the capital city authority of Western Australia to ensure it continues to develop and flourish without compromising future generations. In 2016, the City of Perth Act was ratified. This Act brings the City of Perth in line with other Australian capital cities and empowers it, acknowledging its central role in tourism, business and economic development. The Act also provides the necessary structure and legislation to form partnerships with State and Federal Government and the private sector to meet the future needs of the city.
History of the Council
The Swan River Colony was established in 1829. By 1838 it had become apparent that the spreading colony required some form of localised government and the system of British Local Government was introduced. In 1838 municipal administration was vested in a body of trustees consisting of the Justices of the Peace and the proprietors of allotments held in fee simple in the town. At the time, the town had a population of 1,000. An act of 1842 established a Chairman and a committee of six as the Perth Town Trust. (WB Andrews as Chairman and a Committee of George Leake, James Purkis (Treasurer) Peter Brown, WH Drake, Richard Jones).
The Trust met as a united body. It was not large enough to require splitting into committees. The Trust dealt with day to day problems such as provisions of roads, lighting, footpaths, drainage and keeping stock off private property and roads. The trust also had the right to levy rates, the first one being for the purpose of a footpath in Hay Street. The owners or occupants of allotments on the north side of Hay Street paid twenty shillings and all other owners or occupiers in the area paid ten shillings.
The Trust had a difficult beginning as it was always short of funds. There is ample evidence in the records of the Council to show that it was often on the border of bankruptcy and perhaps a classic example of the financial difficulties was the instance of the Trust's inability to raise £2,000 for public works.
The Perth Town Trust, however, progressed under able leaders such as George Shenton until 23 September 1856, when Perth was declared a Bishop's See by Queen Victoria. This automatically raised Perth to the status of a city, but it was two years before the Trust formally changed its name to the Perth City Council under its first chairman, Mr HC Cole. The first meeting of the Perth City Council was held on 10 December 1858 (HC Cole as Chairman, and Councillors B Smith, T Smith, T Farrelly, C King and J Farmaner). The Council was given legislative and administrative functions, which included town planning, control of water and lighting supplies, care of parks and reserves and supervision of the erection of buildings and in some cases their care also.
The new Council still retained its financial problems but due to the influx of convicts many public works were completed during the period from 1856-79, notably Perth Town Hall. Meetings of the Town Trust and later of the City Council were held each month, the Chairman being elected at the annual ratepayers' meeting. These meetings had to be held wherever opportunity offered. They were held in turn at the Court House, the Commercial Hotel and the United Services Tavern. From 2 December 1853, they were held at the Mechanics Institute on the corner of Howick Street, later to be named Hay Street, and Pier Street.
Only when Perth was granted a municipality under properly constituted local government on 2 January 1871, did the Perth City Council have a permanent home. On 6 January of that year the Perth City Council, with Mr Glyde as Chairman, held its first meeting in the Town Hall.
At this time, the population of the colony was 24,785 with the population of Perth being 5,244 (comprised of 3,007 males and 2,237 females). The population continued to increase very slowly until the gold discoveries of the 1890s. The population more than trebled between 1891 and 1902.
On 3 July 1925 the Council moved to the municipal offices in Murray Street and held its first meeting there 25 October. On 25 March 1963, there was a civic welcome for Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh during which Her Majesty officially opened Council House. The first council meeting was held at Council House on 20 May 1963 and it was not until 29 July that year that the Council's official staff moved into the building.
The title of Mayor was first conferred upon the Chairman of the Perth City Council on 8 September 1880, when Mr George Shenton was elected to take up this position.
On the Centenary of the Foundation on 12 August 1929 in the Town of Perth, it was announced that His Majesty the King had granted that the status of Mayor of the City be raised to that of Lord Mayor. The first Lord Mayor was the Hon. JT Franklin, CMG, MLC, JP.
Wards and boundaries
In 1864, Perth was divided into three wards and in 1897, five wards. Three small local authorities on the border of Perth City Council amalgamated with the Council to establish the PCC area. North Perth and Leederville amalgamated on 22 December 1914 and Victoria Park on 1 November 1917, the city thus consisting of eight wards. In 1963 the Council redistributed the boundaries of the previous eight wards and held its first election of three Councillors for each of the nine wards on 29 May 1963.
In October 1993 the State Government announced the split of the City of Perth and three separate towns were created from the area previously known as the City of Perth. The City of Perth remains the capital city of Western Australia and the three towns created in the split are Town of Vincent, Town of Victoria Park and Town of Cambridge.
The City of Perth today is one of 24 local authorities in the Perth metropolitan region. Eight of these authorities are classified as cities, eight as towns and eight as shires.
City of Perth flag
The City of Perth flag is the red cross of Saint George on a white background with the City's coat of arms superimposed in the centre of the cross. The flag was apparently designed prior to 1879, but unfortunately there is little record of its beginning. There is no name of the designer and why Saint George's Cross was chosen is equally wrapped in obscurity. However, it is significant that the Anglican Cathedral in the city is named after the Patron Saint of England and the main boulevard of the city also bears his name.
There have been some changes to the flag during the 143 years since the City was founded. Perhaps the most significant was the exclusion of the black swan from the top left hand corner around the mid 1920s. It was supplanted by the coat of arms in the centre of the cross when these armorial bearings were finally approved in 1949. They were first granted in December 1926.
City of Perth emblem and plaque
The emblem at the entrance to Council House was designed by Perth artist Geoffrey Allen, incorporating swans supporting a crown in copper, gilt and bronze, which was set on granite from London's old Waterloo Bridge. A feature of the design is six symbolic crowns, the inclusion of which identify Queen Elizabeth II as the sixth Queen Regent of Great Britain. Council House was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen on the 25 March 1963 and this is the reason why the design was personalised.
A historical overview of Council House
50 Years of Council
- 50 Years Council House 1963 - 20136.44 MB | PDF Document
- Council House is an 11-storey building that was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 25 March 1963.
- Council House was designed by two Melbourne architects, Jeffrey Howlett and Donald Bailey, who were awarded the commission after a nationwide design competition was launched.
- The walls consist of floor-to-ceiling double-glazed sealed windows in aluminium frames.
- One of the most distinctive elements of the building is the pattern of T-shaped sunshades placed uniformly against the four walls. They were put to stunning use when the building was colourfully illuminated in 2010.
- The technicolour building is now acknowledged as one of the city’s most appealing night landmarks.
- While Council House is now regarded by experts as the best example of modernist architecture in Perth, there were periods when its future was in serious jeopardy.
- Public offices had been housed on the St Georges Terrace site from the 1840s until the original Perth Town Hall was completed in Barrack Street in 1870. Perth City Council was based there before moving to premises in Murray Street, opposite Forrest Place, in 1925.
- Before construction began in 1961, on a site then home to the Department of Agriculture and the Australian Broadcasting Commission studios, there was a fierce campaign to move the building location to the waterfront.
- In the 1990s, just 30 years after its grand opening, there was a push to demolish the building because it did not fit with the State Government of the day’s vision for Perth, in particular the notion that the area around Council House and Stirling Gardens should become a heritage precinct. The term heritage was being used to describe a certain historic style of architecture, rather than recognising that modern structures can hold heritage value.
- In 1993, the building was vacated for a total refurbishment and removal of asbestos material.
There was considerable public debate over the future of the building which brought on a strongly fought campaign by architects and the community to save Council House. Council House was saved from demolition and reopened, ironically by Premier Richard Court, in 1999. It was heritage listed in 2006.
Former Mayors and CEOs
Mayor Period of office MayorGeorge Shenton Period of office1880 MayorStephen Henry Parker, George Shenton Period of office1881 MayorGeorge Shenton Period of office1882—1884 MayorGeorge Randell Period of office1885 MayorGeorge Shenton Period of office1886 MayorSir George Shenton Period of office1887—1888 MayorDr Edward Scott Period of office1889—1891 MayorEdward Vivien Howard Keane Period of office1891 MayorEdward Vivien Howard Keane
Stephen Henry Parker
Period of office1892 MayorAlexander Forrest Period of office1893—1895 MayorHenry John Saunders Period of office1896—1897 MayorAlexander Forrest Period of office1898—1900 MayorWilliam Gordon Brookman
Stephen Henry Parker
William Thorley Loton
Period of office1901 MayorWilliam Thorley Loton Period of office1902 MayorHarry Brown Period of office1903 —1905 MayorSydney Stubbs Period of office1906 —1907 MayorThomas George Anstruther (T.G.A.) Molloy Period of office1908—1909 MayorRichard Paul Vincent Period of office1910 MayorThomas George Anstruther (T.G.A.) Molloy Period of office1911 —1912 MayorJohn Henry Prowse Period of office1913 —1914 MayorJohn Nicholson Period of office1915 MayorFrank Rupert Rea Period of office1916—1917 MayorWilliam Francis Lathlain Period of office1918—1920 MayorSir William Francis Lathlain Period of office1921—1923 MayorJames Thomas Franklin Period of office1923—1927 MayorHon James Thomas Franklin Period of office1928—1929
Lord Mayor Period of office Lord MayorHon. James Thomas Franklin Period of office1929—1930 Lord MayorHon. Sir William Lathlain Period of office1931—1932 Lord MayorHon. James Thomas Franklin Period of office1932—1934 Lord MayorJoseph James Poynton Period of office1934—1937 Lord MayorCharles Harper Period of office1937—1939 Lord MayorSir Thomas William Meagher Period of office1939 —1945 Lord MayorJoseph Totterdell Period of office1945—1953 (Knighted 1953) Lord MayorJames Murray Period of office1953—1955 Lord MayorHarry Rudolph Howard Period of office1955—1964 (Knighted 1961) Lord MayorCharles John Besley Veryard Period of office1964—1967 Lord MayorThomas Edward Wardle Period of office1967—1972 (Knighted 1970) Lord MayorErnest Henry Lee-Steere Period of office1972—1978 (Knighted 1978) Lord MayorFrederick (Fred) Charles Chaney Period of office1978—1982 (Knighted 1982) Lord MayorMichael (Mick) Agapitos Michael Period of office1982—1988 Lord MayorCharles (Chas) Francis Hopkins Period of office1988—1991 Lord MayorReginald (Reg) Greive Withers Period of office1991—1993 Lord MayorDr Peter Nattrass Period of office1995—2007 Lord MayorLisa-Michelle Scaffidi Period of office2007—2019 Lord MayorBasil Zempilas Period of office2020 —current
Town Clerks of Perth City Council — CEOs of City of Perth
Town Clerk/CEO Period of office Town Clerk/CEOT Farrelly Period of office1858—1864 Town Clerk/CEOJ G Flindel Period of office1864—1865 Town Clerk/CEOT Smith Period of office1865—1869 George Lazenby Period of office1869—1881 Town Clerk/CEOW E Victor Period of office1881—1897 Town Clerk/CEOHarold (Harry) Edmond Petherick Period of office1897—1900 Town Clerk/CEOWilliam Ernest Bold Period of office1900—1944 Town Clerk/CEOWilliam Allan McInnes Green Period of office1944—1966 Town Clerk/CEOGeorge Oswald (Ossie) Edwards Period of office1966—1981 Town Clerk/CEOReginald (Reg) Frederick Dawson Period of office1981—1994 Town Clerk/CEOGarry Hunt, Chief Executive Officer Period of office1995—2002 Town Clerk/CEOFrank Edwards, Chief Executive Officer Period of office2002—2012 Town Clerk/CEOGary Stevenson, Chief Executive Officer Period of office2012—2016 Town Clerk/CEOMartin Mileham, Chief Executive Officer Period of office2016—2018 Murray Jorgensen, Chief Executive Officer Period of office2018—2020 Michelle Reynolds, Chief Executive Officer Period of office2020—current
Perth Town Trust 1838—1858
Chairman Period of office ChairmanGeorge Leake Period of office1838—1840 ChairmanRichard Hinds Period of office1841 ChairmanWalter Boyd Andrews Period of office1842 ChairmanThomas Helms Period of office1843—1845 ChairmanJames Purkis Period of office1846—1848 ChairmanThomas Helms, D Scott Period of office1849 ChairmanHenry Laroche Cole Period of office1850 ChairmanTerence Farrelly, Thomas Helms Period of office1851 ChairmanThomas Helms
Period of office1852
ChairmanHenry Laroche Cole Period of office1853 ChairmanGeorge Shenton Period of office1854—1855 ChairmanGeorge Shenton, Luke Samuel Leake Period of office1856 ChairmanGeorge Shenton Period of office1857—1858
City of Perth Council
Chairman Period of office ChairmanHenry Laroche Cole Period of office1858—1860 ChairmanJulian George Charles Carr Period of office1861—1863 ChairmanJulian George Charles Carr, Alfred Hillman, George Haysom Period of office1864 ChairmanJulian George Charles Carr Period of office1865—1868 ChairmanJulian George Charles Carr, George Glyde Period of office1869 ChairmanGeorge Glyde Period of office1870—1873 ChairmanGeorge Randell Period of office1874 ChairmanGeorge Shenton Period of office1875—1877 ChairmanStephen Henry Parker Period of office1878—1879