Proposed Shellharbour City

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SpeakersHarrison Mr Robert
BusinessPrivate Members Statements


Mr HARRISON (Kiama) [6.11]: Tonight I put the case for declaring the Shellharbour local government area a city. Shellharbour was declared a municipality on 4 June 1859. The council is the oldest in New South Wales to have retained its original boundaries. There have been no amalgamations, and the Shellharbour local government area has had a continuously elected council. There have been no incidents that have led to the appointment of an administrator. In that regard the record of the council is completely clean. Mayors, aldermen and town clerks have served for a long period of time. Keith Grey, who was awarded an Order of the British Empire for his services to local government, served on the local council for 41 years, including 15 as mayor. I am proud to say that I served 20 years on Shellharbour council, including 15 as mayor. My wife was the first female alderman; she was elected in 1973. Together, we are reportedly the longest-serving husband and wife team on any council in New South Wales; we have a combined term of 35 years. The present mayor alderman, Cec Glenholmes, has served on the council for 27 years, including many terms as deputy mayor.

In 1861 the population of Shellharbour was 1,415. In 1947 it was 3,117 and today it is more than 50,000. Early settlers were involved in cedar felling, but over the years that was replaced by dairying, which remained as the predominant occupation until recent years. Shellharbour has experienced rates of population growth well in excess of the State average. It is projected to have a population of 75,000 early in the next century. Shellharbour is a designated growth area of the Illawarra and contains approximately two-thirds of Wollongong's subplains zoned urban land. The Shellharbour Square and Warilla Grove shopping complexes have monthly door counts of 331,000 and 200,000 respectively, with national retail outlets such as Coles, Kmart, Woolworths and so on. The Blackbutt town centre forms the principal retail focus for the area with government bodies including the Roads and Traffic Authority, housing, community services, and Medicare to name a few. The area has four blue metal quarries which are regarded as significant State manufacturing resources

Shellharbour has outstanding sporting facilities, including the Croom regional complex, a 100 hectare site which has a synthetic hockey surface. The council intends to construct a multipurpose indoor stadium shortly. The Blackbutt Forest is a popular passive recreational area of 100 hectares acquired by council for community benefit. Council has a number of achievements and strategies in place to reduce its dependence on rate revenue. In 1992 it adopted a major debt reduction policy utilising funds from entrepreneurial activities. In 1991 it funded its administrative centre and by the sale of assets and the taking up of a loan funded from the income from tenants of the ground floor. Shellharbour is the residential expansion area for the Illawarra. Council's section 94 management plan shows that some $60 million of community facilities will be constructed over the next 10 to 20 years. The fundamental criterion for declaring an area a city is that the area must have a distinct character and history. It must be independent, not only in the commercial sense, and self-reliant in regard to commercial, cultural and sporting facilities. The residents are proud to regard themselves as Shellharbour citizens.

The new Local Government Act is silent on the requirements for city status but I believe that the information I have outlined to this House tonight supplies ample evidence to support the claim that Shellharbour local government area has to be designated a city. I ask the Minister for the Environment, who is at the table, to bring to the attention of the Minister for Local Government the matter I have raised tonight and to indicate support for it, because the Minister for the Environment is well aware of the progressive nature of the Shellharbour local government area. In every sense Shellharbour meets the parameters that are normally accepted as necessary for city status. I am proud to say that I have a long association with this local government area and that I am proud to represent it.

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