Lake Illawarra committee 'begrudgingly' approved

The Lake Illawarra management committee has been approved by Wollongong council. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

The Lake Illawarra management committee has been approved by Wollongong council. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Wollongong councillors have begrudgingly signed off on the terms of a Lake Illawarra management committee, but have asked they be revisited during the next term of council.

At Monday night's meeting councillors elected three committee members - David Brown, Bede Crasnich and Ann Martin - but said the group should be revisited under the next term of the council.

The formation of the Shellharbour and Wollongong council committee - which will replace the axed Lake Illawarra Authority - has been in limbo for the past 18 months due to concerns about the NSW government foisting costs on to the cash-strapped council.

This week, despite a continuing quibble between the two councils over how many committee members each council should have, Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said Wollongong councillors should agree to form the group "for the good of the lake".

"We came to no consensus in discussions [with Shellharbour council] in terms of proportional representation on the Lake Illawarra estuary management committee," Cr Bradbery said. He suggested councillors go ahead with appointing three committee members, but should vote to revisit the terms of the committee under the next term of council to strengthen its powers.

The reformed committee would have representation based on the size of the councils, the area of the lake or the financial commitment each organisation made and it would be able to make its own decisions over how to spend money, Cr Bradbery said.

Independent councillor Greg Petty said he did not have enough information about the financial commitment the council would need to make to manage the lake, and asked for a report detailing what works would be needed and the likely costs to the council.

Vicki Curran agreed, saying councillors were still missing a significant amount of information.

Chris Connor said councillors had received "copious amounts of information" during confidential briefing sessions, and needed to move on and set up the committee despite their reservations.

"Without this estuary committee, there are lots of government grants we will not be able to have access to and we need to take on this commitment, unfortunately.

"This is the only way forward at present, given the state government's decision, the constraints of the Local Government Act and the reluctance of Shellharbour to be fair and equitable in the understanding of our shared dilemma."

Liberal councillor Crasnich also said it was time to "move along", but said he would fight his own political party to get funds for the lake.

Councillors voted 8-2 to support the formation of the committee.

kmcilwain@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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