They were seen posing for a photo, but Wollongong lord mayor Gordon Bradbery wanted more from NSW Premier Mike Baird than just a happy snap on Monday.
Cr Bradbery, who is contesting the upcoming Wollongong byelection as an independent, used Mr Baird’s fleeting visit to the city as a chance to get in his ear about a number of council-related issues.
The Wollongong Harbour precinct, WIN Entertainment Centre (WEC) refurbishment, Lake Illawarra land and assets, disability access at Unanderra railway station and Australian-made steel use made the list of Wollongong City Council’s “highest priorities”.
Outlining the platform on an “Office of the Lord Mayor” letterhead, seen by the Mercury, Cr Bradbery’s call for state government action stressed Wollongong was a “major regional economic hub” and the “coastal playground for the south-western Sydney growth corridor”.
On the Wollongong Harbour front, Cr Bradbery had planned to take Mr Baird to the city’s iconic precinct so he could see the need for improvements first-hand.
Inclement weather and the Premier’s tight commitment schedule meant the harbour stroll didn’t occur, but that didn’t stop the lord mayor’s push for state funding and action.
In his letter, Cr Bradbery called on Mr Baird to “instigate the funding needed to reinstate the use of the ramp/slipway and the refuelling component” at the harbour and to progress the precinct’s masterplan “as a matter of priority”.
“It is one thing for the council to put in all that work around that area, it’s another thing to basically frame what I consider an ancient piece of poetry that is now needing to be revamped,” Cr Bradbery told the Mercury.
“It is just ridiculous. Council’s done its bit, now the Department of Lands through the Department of Industry needs to come to the party.”
Cr Bradbery indicated he would also make the council’s priorities “very clear” to the Illawarra’s parliamentary secretary, Gareth Ward.
“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,” he said.
Harbour in a ‘state of disrepair’
Stephen Phillips’ boat was damaged when an east coast low battered Wollongong Harbour in June.
With no harbour slipway to allow him to pull the vessel from the water, the Wollongong Yacht Club (WYC) Commodore has been undertaking the temporary work required for an ocean trip to Sydney for repairs.
Getting the slipway operational again and improving the general appearance of the harbour are atop the WYC’s priorities.
“There’s lots of temporary fencing at the moment from where the slipway’s been closed down and then the damage from the storms,” Mr Phillips said.
“What tends to happen is once you start getting those rundown things … you end up in a bit of a downward spiral. I think it’s important to arrest that before it goes too far.”