Illawarra Business Chamber backs Wollongong-Shellharbour council merger

While Shellharbour residents are opposed to a merger with Wollongong City Council, the Illawarra Business Chamber believes it is a good idea. Picture: Sylvia Liber

While Shellharbour residents are opposed to a merger with Wollongong City Council, the Illawarra Business Chamber believes it is a good idea. Picture: Sylvia Liber

A merger between Wollongong and Shellharbour councils would help the region attract more investment, according to the Illawarra Business Chamber.

Also, it would be a “common sense” move to create a super-council by merging Wollongong and Shellharbour with Kiama.

The controversial views forms part of the chamber’s submission to the Boundaries Commission.

The submission said council mergers could create a “better operating environment for business, especially small businesses” and allows for the harnessing of economies of scale.

Chamber CEO Debra Murphy said the Wollongong-Shellharbour merger could create the “critical mass” to exploit the region’s natural advantages and economic potential.

“We support amalgamating Wollongong and Shellharbour Councils,” Ms Murphy said.

“If it proceeds, the merger may support a more strategic approach to regional investment and infrastructure, as well as compelling opportunities to achieve cost efficiencies.”

Ms Murphy said a three-way merger, while not under consideration by the commission, also had great benefits.

If common sense were to prevail, Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama would be merged. - Debra Murphy

“If common sense were to prevail, Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama would be merged,” Ms Murphy said.

“We know that traffic and businesses flow between these three local government areas, and a merged council could better reflect this cohesion.”

The chamber was less bullish on linking Kiama and Shoalhaven.

“The connectivity and cohesion of Kiama and Shoalhaven is weaker,” Ms Murphy said.

“We believe there are valid grassroots concerns regarding the merger of these communities.

“We hope the Boundaries Commission considers these concerns very carefully.”

Submissions on the NSW Government’s council boundary review can be lodged until Sunday, February 28, 2016.

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