A State Government proposal to force the amalgamation of Wollongong and Shellharbour City Councils has this afternoon been released with Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson saying the 18-page paper left more questions than answers.

“The proposal confirms that there will be massive job losses as back-office operations are “redeployed” and senior management roles are “streamlined”.

“You don’t model a substantial $64 million ‘saving’ from “administrative functions” if massive job losses are not on the cards.

“I am also concerned that medium and high density housing will be imposed on the Shellharbour local government area, which is far higher in the Wollongong local government area (LGA).

“Medium density dwellings are 4% higher in Wollongong LGA (20%) compared to Shellharbour LGA (16%) and high density dwellings are 8% higher in Wollongong LGA (9%) than Shellharbour LGA (1%).

“The State Government’s forced amalgamation proposal indicates that it wishes to ensure:

housing development are not unreasonably concentrated in particular neighbourhoods. (Page 14, Merger Proposal: Shellharbour City Council, Wollongong City Council).

“That can only mean that the State Government intends to impose far more medium and high density developments on the Shellharbour local government area”, she said.

Ms Watson said under the State Government’s proposal, councillor representation would be 13 councillors (Shellharbour Councils currently has 7 councillors) and there was no indication whether councillor representation would be on a ward or city-wide basis.

“This raises some very serious concerns about the adequacy of representation for the Shellharbour LGA communities in this forced amalgamation proposal.

“This forced amalgamation proposal raises far more questions than it provides answers”, she said.

Ms Watson repeated calls that the Parliamentary Secretary of the Illawarra and South Coast Gareth Ward MP should lead a delegation of Mayors, Councillors, State MPs and community representatives to meet with the Minister for Local Government, Paul Toole MP as soon as possible.

To see the State Government’s merger proposal for Wollongong City Council and Shellharbour City Council, click here.


7 January 2016