Shellharbour council backs Lake Illawarra plan

Shellharbour City councillors have unanimously backed the proposed structure of a Lake Illawarra Management Committee, despite Wollongong City councillors demanding a firmer financial commitment from the state government before doing the same.

In June the NSW Government announced the Lake Illawarra Authority (LIA) would close and be replaced by an estuary management committee.

The new committee was to be jointly formed by the two councils, and included two councillors from each local government area (LGA), a community representative from each LGA, plus staff from each council and NSW Government agencies.

There would be $150,000 spent annually on the committee, with Wollongong supplying $100,000 and Shellharbour $50,000.

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Under the proposal LIA assets on land around the lake would be transferred to the council in which they are located, while the management committee would oversee the lake itself.

Several Wollongong councillors voiced concerns about the costs associated with the lake’s management, with Cr Vicki Curran pointing out the former LIA had cost the state government $962,000 a year, on Monday night.

However, while the majority of Shellharbour councillors disagreed with the government’s decision to scrap the authority they unanimously endorsed the proposed estuary management committee’s structure last night.

Councillor John Murray said  ‘‘I don’t see we have a lot of choice’’.

‘‘The lake foreshore is part of our assets ... we need to look after we need to have plan to do it,’’ he said.

‘‘We don’t want to bury our heads in the sand. These are things that people want to use and want to keep. What Wollongong want to do is irrelevant.’’

Councillor Peter Moran said he was ‘‘mystified’’ as to why Wollongong councillors took the action they did.

‘‘The State government has walked away from a framework that worked well for a number of years, but we have to get a framework in place,’’ Cr Moran said.

‘‘This seems like a reasonable way forward ... we might as well work towards it.’’

Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba. Picture ANDY ZAKELI

Mayor Marianne Saliba said the community was losing a valuable commodity in the LIA, but feared if the councils did nothing the state government could appoint its own committee and give the councils no say at all.

Councillor Helen Stewart said she watched Wollongong council debate the issue and commented ‘‘they were all over the place like a bride’s nightie’’.

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