Local Government

At MacDonnells Law we understand that no two local governments are the same and that the pressure to do more with less is real. We understand that local governments are highly regulated and constantly juggling the interests of many stakeholders. Our goal at MacDonnells Law is to support our local government clients through any issues they face by drawing on the expertise of our legal specialists across a vast range of areas. Importantly, we are equally happy sitting in the shadows as a trusted advisor to our local governments as we are to playing the starring role in pursuit of your local government objectives and outcomes.

The range of issues on which we provide advice to local governments is open-ended. From dog-attacks to protection of intellectual property, from drones to conflicts of interest, from funding negotiations to drought related issues and everything in between. If you can think of it there is more than a fair chance we have dealt with it and provided advice on it in our many many years servicing local governments. If you need some real-world advice about real-world problems give our team at MacDonnells Law a call to see how we can help.

Unsurprisingly when someone is spending public monies there is a higher level of accountability, transparency and scrutiny over the decision-making processes. At MacDonnells Law, we will help guide you through:

  • identifying the major risks and various statutory and internal obligations you have;
  • planning your procurement from start to finish;
  • assisting with contract selection or preparation of contract and tender documents;
  • evaluating tenders;
  • contract management processes.

Local governments are charged with many things including:

  • Identifying and managing risk;
  • having regulatory oversight for many areas of law including planning, environmental issues and animal management to name a few;
  • taking steps to ensure compliance and/or enforce those areas of law in which it has oversight.

We here at MacDonnells Law are well versed in providing firm but fair guidance and advice to local governments consistent with its public status and, should it be necessary, in its role as a model litigant.

Our native title and cultural heritage team has extensive experience acting for various local governments, government owned corporations and private proponents in a number of Federal Court native title proceedings and litigation throughout Queensland and other jurisdictions.

Our team regularly provides advice to local governments and private proponents on the complex native title and cultural heritage implications of projects and activities in accordance with the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 (Qld) and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Act 2003 (Qld), including drafting and negotiating indigenous land use agreements and cultural heritage agreements.

Federal Court proceedings and mediation

Our team appears on a frequent basis on behalf of respondent parties in native title determination applications (claims) and other Federal Court native title proceedings.

We currently act for various local government and individual respondents in the majority of native title claims currently filed in the Federal Court.

Our experience and involvement in native title proceedings includes:

  • advising on the native title claims process and the recognition and protection of respondent interests, including the negotiation of clauses under the terms of a consent determination order;
  • advising on native title extinguishment issues;
  • appearing at case management conferences, directions hearings, contested hearings and determination hearings;
  • acting on behalf of various clients in non-claimant applications.

Agreements and negotiation

  • We have successfully negotiated many indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs) as part of resolving clients’ interests in native title claims and for specific projects.
  • We have also been responsible for drafting and negotiating cultural heritage management plans and cultural heritage management agreements on behalf of large developers for major South-East Queensland greenfield projects, as well as on behalf of large South-East Queensland local governments and government owned corporations to facilitate the delivery of essential infrastructure and services to the community.


Compliance under the legislation and determining the right option can be complex, so we make it easy by providing clients with practical and commercial advice and assistance relevant to our clients’ needs.

Our extensive experience includes:

  • advising on and assisting with the native title implications for tenure conversion;
  • undertaking historical tenure and public works extinguishment analysis for extinguishment of native title in the subject area and preparing supporting submissions to the various Departments;
  • compulsory acquisition and surrender of native title over State land to allow for town expansions and development;
  • providing advice to local governments and developers on compliance options and satisfying their duty of care pursuant to the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 (Qld);
  • considering and advising on the native title implications associated with land dealings, infrastructure projects and services;
  • advising on future acts and drafting future act notices in accordance with the future act regime under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth);
  • assisting local governments, government entities and project proponents with traditional owner engagement and facilitating direct relationships and consultation processes;
  • advice on and assisting local governments and government entities with the compulsory acquisition process under the Acquisition of Land Act 1967 (Qld) and the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth);
  • Native title and cultural heritage due diligence for various projects and land dealings;
  • drafting organisational native title and cultural heritage compliance manuals, procedures and guides for local governments, government entities and developers.

Contact Us

Joanne Parisi Director MacDonnells Law

Joanne Parisi


Alex Buck

Senior Associate