Editorial October 18 2016

As far as receptions go, this one was a fairly lukewarm one.

In fact lukewarm might be overstating it.

It was probably not unexpected when Premier Mike Baird – the man responsible for council mergers – was called up to address the Local Government NSW conference.

The slow hand claps of a couple in the crowd greeted the Premier as he rose to take to the podium.

To his credit, the Premier faced the music and delivered his address.

It wasn’t the most convincing address in history but it was delivered nonetheless.

In another unsurprising turn of events, Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba used the event to confront the Premier over the merger her council with Wollongong.

Mayor Saliba pleaded with the Premier to “listen to the community” and overturn the merger decision.

While he may have been in a mood for backflips last week over the greyhound issue, there appeared little appetite for a backdown on the merger issue.

“I know that there are some good things that Shellharbour council is doing, I know there are some good things that Wollongong are doing – I think collectively you can do great things,” the Premier said.

In a rather embarrassing turn of events Mayor Saliba then followed the Premier into the back chasms of the WEC to hijack a pre-organised media conference.

The Mayor of Shellharbour was quickly moved on so the Premier could continue the conference.

While it was the Premier's first visit to Wollongong in some time, little really came out of it in terms of benefits for the region.

It would have been a perfect opportunity for the Premier to come out in support of the WEC convention centre revamp or a fairer deal for Australian steel.

Alas, no.

The Premier interestingly did manage a media opportunity with Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery, who is of course an independent candidate in the Wollongong byelection.

The pair caught up briefly at the WEC about a number of council-related issues.

The weather and time ruined a planned media opportunity for the two to stroll along the harbour.

“We’re a significant player in the state economy ... and we deserve better in terms of our cut of the attention of the state government,” the Lord Mayor said.

Hallelujah Lord Mayor. Hallelujah.

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