Shellharbour council’s court battle is out of this world

TO use a famous quote from an alien character in the television series, Star Trek, “resistance is futile”.

Clearly in the case of Shellharbour council fighting the merger with Wollongong, resistance is completely futile.

Yet Mayor Marianne Saliba’s head still appears to be in the same orbit as the popular sci-fi program if there is any thought this fight can still be won.

Let’s boil this down to the simplest explanation possible.

Shellharbour council’s legal battle was over the Local Government Act – a piece of legislation developed and enforced by the NSW Government.

So if the government wants to merge councils, it will eventually find a way. 

It’s the government’s legislation after all.

So, whether you agree with the council merger process or not, it’s that simple.

Yet Shellharbour council has persisted in throwing ratepayer money at what is in all clarity a wild goose chase.

Heaven forbid it should use the seven-day injunction to throw more money at this.

Ultimately that cost will be worn by the ratepayers in both cities under the merged council.

Mayor Saliba’s justification for this was that it’s a cost Wollongong ratepayers should be hit with because their council did nothing to stop the merger.

No, Mayor Saliba, history will show one council read the play and the other elected on a futile court case at the expense of ratepayers.

It will be interesting to know what the combined costs of the government and the council’s legal bills will be.

Shellharbour council was asked directly about those costs after the decision announced on Tuesday, but denied to declare it.

Predictable move.

Instead it said it would release that cost once a decision is made on whether it would launch another appeal.

Ultimately that means less money to provide services in the region in the future.

An interesting legacy for the outgoing Shellharbour council to leave.

And in the meantime, both Wollongong and Shellharbour remain in limbo.

It would be nice for the region to be able to have some clarity and confidence – to be able to stride towards a strong collective future.

Or, again like Star Trek, the “new frontier’’.

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