The CCCLM has a history of over 50 years. The origins of the organisation date back to 1957 when the Lord Mayors, meeting at the Melbourne Town Hall, agreed that a Capital Cities Exchange Bureau be established. Before that, meetings of Lord Mayors were on an ad hoc basis.
The documents available do not indicate when a name change occurred, but in 1963 the Lord Mayors, at a meeting in Hobart, agreed to the continuing operation of the Australian Capital Cities Secretariat. Each Council committed funding to cover the necessary operating costs of the Secretariat.
The 1982 the organisation adopted the new name of the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors. It was also in this year that the Annual Conference of the Australian Capital Cities Secretariat initiated a research study into the role of the organisation and to determine a set of strategies to achieve the organisation's priorities. Subsequently, a report was prepared for, and presented to the Secretariat in 1983 by Dr John Halligan. The report included the following Mission Statement and Objectives for the organisation:
To provide national leadership for the effective co-ordination and representation of the special interests of the Capital Cities of the Australian States and Territories, especially in their relations with other spheres of government
- To achieve comprehensive recognition of the special roles and status of each Capital city
- To advance the economic base of each Capital City
- To obtain from the State Governments specific recognition of the territorial and functional authority of the Capital Cities within their respective areas
- To obtain from the Australian Government tangible recognition of the Capital Cities as integral and vital parts of the Australian system of government
- To achieve tangible acknowledgement from both Australian and State Governments of the special financial disabilities experienced by the Capital Cities.