The "Local Authorities Act 1902" abolished divisional boards and created city, town and shire councils. Cook Shire was established on 16 Jan 1919 after Daintree and Hann Shires have been united. Cooktown Town Council became part of Cook Shire on 6 Aug 1932.
Under the "Local Authorities Act 1902", the primary function of Shire Councils was to provide such public services and amenities as parks and reserves, cemeteries, libraries and recreational facilities, water and sanitation services, roads, bridges, wharves, street lighting, public health services (such as immunisations), licences and registrations for businesses, markets and animals, town planning, and the control of noxious weeds and other pests.
The Council was also responsible for administering the Local Fund, and for valuing properties within the Shire for the purpose of determining and collecting rates.
The Council could pass by-laws regarding all matters within its jurisdiction. All such by-laws required the assent of the Governor-in-Council.
Local Government Councils under the "Local Government Act 1993" and subsequent "Local Government Act 2009" and through local laws: promote economic development; own and manage public infrastructure including roads and public works, sewerage, and water storage and distribution; regulate activities which affect the environment including air, noise and water quality, land use and waste disposal, pests and noxious weeds, and building control; provide community services including recreational and cultural facilities and public health services.
Under the "Local Government Act 2009". local governments have " the power to do anything that is necessary or convenient for the good rule and local government of its local government area" including conduct joint government activities, engage in business enterprises. construct and maintain roads and other infrastructure. Indigenous Councils which are also Trustee Councils are responsible for business related to trust land while Community Forums may be established to discuss community issues.
Councils generate revenue from rates, service charges, grants and subsidies from state and federal governments, and loans for major projects.
The Shire Council included a chairman, town clerk and a number of other members. From time to time, the Council could appoint committees for special or general purposes. Council also appointed its own officers, who were paid from the Local Fund.
Each year the Minister appointed an independent auditor to review the financial statements of the Council. The Council submitted an annual Statement of Revenue and Expenditure to the Minister, which was published in the Government Gazette.
On 15 March 2008 the Cook Shire area is undivided and the Council is comprised of 7 councillors including the mayor.