THE powers that be have drawn a line in the sand, formally welcoming the Shoalhaven into the fold that is the Illawarra.
No more will Shoalhaven or Illawarra residents scratch their heads, pondering just where the sometimes arbitrary boundaries of their region lie.
On Wednesday, several state government ministers, including Minister for the Illawarra John Ajaka, gathered in Nowra to officially launch the official NSW government Illawarra web page.
The reason for the launch being so far south of what has come to be, anecdotally at least, the border of the Illawarra?
South Coast MP Shelley Hancock said it was to show the “importance the government places on the Shoalhaven within the Illawarra region”.
In August 2013, the Illawarra Mercury reported on a Department of Planning discussion paper designed to formulate a 20-year plan for the Illawarra, in which it said the three local government areas of Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama made up the region.
By contrast, the $100 million Illawarra Infrastructure Fund from the long-term lease of Port Kembla also included Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee council areas.
Labor Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson said historically the Illawarra was considered to include Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama LGAs.
“Nowra is a part of the Shoalhaven – it’s not a part of the Illawarra,” she said.
“This is just convenient for a minister to be... making these arbitrary decisions on what is the Illawarra.
“It’s just historic, it’s the way it’s always been. They are the three LGAs that make up the Illawarra.”
However, Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash disagreed.
“We are also the second largest economy on the South Coast behind Wollongong which ties us together economically,” she said.
“Being part of the Illawarra means our local government area will be at the table when important decisions are being made about the region which affects jobs, growth, planning and development.”
Mr Ajaka said the Illawarra web page provided information about what the government was doing in the region, key facts for potential investors and activities for tourists.
It can be viewed at www.nsw.gov.au /region/illawarra.