When the editors of this volume met in Mannheim at the European Consor tium of Political Research Local Government Workshop in 1999, they dis cussed the possibility of a North-South meeting of minds to discuss some common experiences of local government reform. Further discussions with Harald Baldersheim, Chair of the International Political Science Associa tions' Research Sub Committee No. 5 suggested there was room for such a meeting within the ambit of IPSA activities and, indeed, for a subsequent publication to form part of aseries of local government studies. With the financial and logistical assistance of the New South Wales Lo cal Government and Shires Association based in Sydney Australia, a confer ence entitled "Local Government at the Millennium" was organised. The editors would like to thank the NSWLGSA for their assistance in bringing together the conference speakers some of whom are contributors to this vol urne. In addition, we each have to ray our own debt of thanks to specific in stitutions which provided support with financial assistance or making avail able a conducive work environment to bring this collection of papers together as a book. These are the University of New South Wales, the University of Glamorgan, and the University of Troms0. The editors would especially like to thank the Norwegian Ministry of Municipal and Regional Affairs, repre sented by Mrs. Christine Hjortland, for financial support for editorial meet ings, and Mr. Murray Kidnie, Secretary of the NSWLGSA for his early commitment to the project.