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Businesses merge all the time: Councils should embrace change

Release Date: 26/02/2016
The Illawarra Business Chamber (IBC) has called on Councils to shift their focus outward, stating in their submission to the Boundaries Commission that amalgamations offer the opportunity to realise the Illawarra’s potential as an economic powerhouse.

“Businesses merge every day,” IBC Chief Executive Officer Debra Murphy said. “Why should our Councils operate any differently, unless there are very compelling reasons not to?

 “Our job is to convey a position about what’s best for business, and we believe united Councils could deliver very positive outcomes for our economy.

“The Illawarra has significant natural advantages, a proud history, unique geography and outstanding potential to be the leading regional economic force in our nation.

“Amalgamations may help create the critical mass we need to leverage these advantages and deliver better outcomes for business and residents alike,” Ms Murphy said.

Ms Murphy said the IBC had developed positions concerning the two amalgamations proposals for the Illawarra after reviewing them against the criteria in the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW).

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

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

“In fact, if common sense were to prevail, Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama would be merged.

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

“On the other hand, the connectivity and cohesion of Kiama and Shoalhaven is weaker.

“We believe there are valid grassroots concerns regarding the merger of these communities.  We hope the Boundary Commission considers these concerns very carefully.”

Ms Murphy said, however, that IBC was generally of the view that amalgamations will improve, not diminish the delivery of local government services. 

“We know that our economy is in transition, which means it’s all the more important that we have a united voice.

“While the merger process is challenging, we believe it offers the opportunity for the Illawarra to pull together and better deliver the jobs, growth and investment we need for a bright economic future,” Ms Murphy concluded.

Media Contact: Rebecca Burdick 0417 135 858

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