News today that all Illawarra Councils will be forced to merge have shown that guarantees by the Member for Kiama Gareth Ward that the State Government would not force amalgamations in the region were worthless, Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson said this today.

“The State Government has simply ignored the recommendations of its own commissioned reports that the Illawarra Councils should remain as stand alone.

“This has always been a predetermined outcome by the State Government and I’m not one bit surprised by the announcement.

“Today, Gareth Ward has egg all over his face.

“He has told all the Mayors in the Illawarra for months that the State Government would not force Councils in the region to amalgamate.

“Mr Ward was either deliberately lying or his own Government simply dismissed his own opposition to forced amalgamation in the Illawarra.

“The region’s Mayors are entitled to feel as if they’ve all been misled by Mr Ward.

“Mr Ward has some serious explaining to do”, she said.

Ms Watson predicted that there would be substantial community opposition in the Illawarra to forced amalgamations.

“The people of Shellharbour won’t wear forced amalgamation with Wollongong, and I think the same position will eventuate in Kiama against merging with Shoalhaven Council”, she said.

Ms Watson said that Mr Ward had a clear, moral responsibility to publicly oppose the forced amalgamation agenda his own Government was trying to impose on the Illawarra.

“Mr Ward loves to portray himself as the region’s champion against his Government on very easy issues.

“Let’s see whether he has the guts to stand up against his mate, the Premier and make clear that Illawarra Council’s will not merge under his watch”, Ms Watson said.


18 December 2015