Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba has pulled no punches in her assessment of a Wollongong councillor’s decision to back the state government’s controversial plan to merge their respective councils.
Liberal Wollongong councillor Bede Crasnich’s support of a combined Wollongong/Shellharbour council was revealed by the Mercury last week. Cr Crasnich said the joint venture would have “greater regional influence and significance when lobbying [the] government”.
“I firmly believe our region is stronger together,” he said.
Cr Saliba said Cr Crasnich was a “typical party boy” and found his pro-merger comments “bizzare”.
“I had a conversation with him earlier [last week] where he indicated that he didn’t understand the need for a merger between Wollongong and Shellharbour,” she said.
“I just think he’s running along party lines. Who wants to be represented by somebody who will stand on a party line rather than [for] the people he represents?”
Cr Crasnich’s pro-merger stance puts him at odds with all Shellharbour councillors.
Wollongong City Council is yet to make its merger position known, pending additional information.
“It really highlights for me the problems that Shellharbour people are up against, when you’ve got Wollongong councillors rubbing their hands together [and] can’t wait to get their hands on Shellharbour,” Cr Saliba said.
Cr Crasnich said the “unpopular and costly” City Hub project was “a key reason why people in our community have no confidence in the elected leadership of Shellharbour City Council”.
“Rest assured, if and when this merger occurs, the sun will still come up in the morning, night will surly follow day,” he said.
“We will have a stronger, Illawarra-orientated council armed and ready to tackle the infrastructure, planning and economic challenges facing a community that can no longer afford to ignore a relatively easy question of uniting two councils with the same aspirations for one region.”