Illawarra Greens. Social justice, environmental sustainability, peace and non-violence and grassroots democracy.

A matter of trust: City council angry over Ousley bridge blunder

Greens councillor Mithra Cox criticised the Transport for NSW decision along similar lines, saying it meant residents who lived a few hundred metres away from the university would be forced to drive there.

"When Transport for NSW do things like this it really reduces trust for this council, for our community and for engaging with their processes," Cr Cox said.

"We've been engaging with them over a number of years on the integrated transport strategy which has all sorts of platitudes about increasing active transport, increasing permeability of the city, integrating our transport strategy to theirs and when things like this happen it really makes us question why bother engaging.

"It's just empty words written on a piece of paper that mean nothing. Shock, horror, they did exactly what we all expected and they removed all of the things that were written in this strategy at the last moment.

"When they engage with us they need to do that in good faith and they need to stick to the things that they said they were going to do."


Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 9 April 2024.

'Quitting on cyclists': residents anger over losing Ousley interchange bridge

Greens candidate for Wollongong Lord Mayor Jess Whittaker said the removal of the bridge was a sign Transport for NSW was "quitting on the cyclists".

"The pedestrian bridge was a small ask from the community," Ms Whittaker said.

"It was provided in the feedback Transport for NSW received during consultation. It should not be the first thing to be cut when they tighten the budget for this $390 million project.

"We can't sacrifice the benefits of walking and cycling and our good quality lives in Wollongong so we can have an impassable major traffic thoroughfare through the heart of Wollongong."


Story by Glen Humphries and Connor Pearce in the Illawarra Mercury, 7 April 2024.

State government begins planning for Illawarra's post-coal future

Greens candidate for Wollongong City Council Deidre Stuart questioned whether a full range of views were represented.

Ms Stuart noted members of the environmental movement were not present.

“There’s some great people across our society who have good ideas about how people can be upskilled.”

Ms Stuart said there needed to be similar engagement with the environmental consequences of mining, given the estimated multimillion-dollar bill to rehabilitate the Wongawilli and Russell Vale mines, if a buyer is not found.

“Let’s start with cleaning up all the mess,” she said.


Story by Connor Pearce in the Illawarra Mercury, 27 March 2024.

Shark nets must go, Greens call after latest Thirroul dolphin death

"The Greens set up a stall at Thirroul over the weekend to talk to people about shark nets and I can say the community sentiment was overwhelmingly in favour of removing the net," Ms Whittaker said.

"People understand that entering the ocean comes with an element of personal responsibility.

"The community told us that they want the government to stop using outdated technology and focus on methods to reduce risk that are kind to the environment, effective and good value."

Ms Whittaker said the nets should be removed without further ado. "We know that shark nets catch mainly other species other than sharks," she said.

"Shark nets are an old method that don't keep swimmers and surfers safe. The state government needs to remove them from our beaches.

"Just like we educate about swimming between the flags, we can also help reduce the risk of shark interactions by providing advice about not swimming in murky water, at dawn or dusk or when there are bait fish around, as well as guidance on the range of personal shark deterrent devices available."


By Ben Langford in the Illawarra Mercury, 21 March 2024.

Greens call for removal of shark nets from Illawarra beaches

“Shark nets are a cruel, outdated form of control that have not been proven to keep swimmers safe,” Ms Whittaker said.

“During the weekend we sadly saw an endangered leatherback turtle tangled in shark nets off Manly Beach, followed shortly after by another very large turtle rescued from the nets at Dee Why. This is unacceptable.

“We know that shark nets catch mainly other species other than sharks. Shark nets are an old method that don’t keep swimmers and surfers safe. The state government needs to remove them from our beaches.”

The $86.4 million dollar Sharksmart program funds a range of measures from drum lines to less invasive drone surveillance that can alert swimmers and surfers to the presence of sharks.

“The program offers education and can also supply trauma kits for a fast response in the event of a shark attack.

“There’s some really great elements in this program that use technology such as drones to warn swimmers of a risk, but currently most of the resources are going into managing drum lines and nets,” Ms Whittaker said.

“The Greens set up a stall at Thirroul over the weekend to talk to people about shark nets and I can say the community sentiment was overwhelmingly in favour of removing the nets. People understand that entering the ocean comes with an element of personal responsibility. Just like we educate about swimming between the flags, we can also help reduce the risk of shark interactions by providing advice about not swimming in murky water, at dawn or dusk or when there are bait fish around, as well as guidance on the range of personal shark deterrent devices available.

“The community told us that they want the government to stop using outdated technology and focus on methods to reduce risk that are kind to the environment, effective and good value. Instead of netting dolphins, rays and endangered turtles off our beaches, we are calling on the State Government to reallocate funds that manage nets, to better resourcing the serious problems that actually are harming the community, such as domestic violence, homelessness and access to healthcare.”

“There are popular beaches right up and down the east coast of NSW that are free from shark nets. Why are they only deployed around Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong? If there was a really high, unacceptable risk of shark interactions they would be at every swimming beach. But they’re not. So let’s stop killing marine life on our city beaches with nets that sharks can swim around, and focus on the tools we have that don’t cause harm and actually work,” Ms Whittaker said.


Story by Mick Roberts in The Bulli & Clifton Times, 21 March 2024.

We need greater investment in pathways, safe crossings & safer roads

Greens lead candidate for Ward 2 Kit Docker is calling on Wollongong City Council to address the significant accessibility issues faced by residents across Figtree.

Read more

Paramedic and former Bulli High School student will stand for council in September

Ms Whittaker said she is excited to be the Greens candidate at the September elections.

“I grew up in Bulli. I studied at Bulli High School and completed a Bachelor of Science at University of Wollongong,” she said.

“I lived in the northern suburbs as a renter until around seven years ago then we purchased a home in Port Kembla.”

“I believe it’s time for a fresh approach to how our council operates and what we, as a community, aim for,” she said.

“The Greens have big plans to push for more changes to increase affordable housing so our young people, key workers such as teachers, health care workers, paramedics, police officers, and the vulnerable can afford to live in our wonderful city. 

“We want to see better access and transport throughout the city with more footpath upgrades, pedestrian crossings and bike paths constructed so we put people first.

“We will ensure the first new skate park built in 10 years is delivered as soon as possible, followed by the second and the third. This is what the community has been asking for decades.

“This is just a few of the ideas the community has told us they want, but we know we need to do so much more to tackle urban heating, the transition to renewables and protecting our amazing escarpment, waterways and beaches as the effects of climate change intensifies. So we’ll be out talking to the people of Wollongong every day until 14 September to guide our progressive agenda for the next term of council.”


“I consider the opportunity to build on the achievements of our exceptional Greens Councillors Mithra and Cath,” Mr Docker said.

“We need a fundamental shift in our Council’s approach to housing that puts the needs of the community before the interests of property developers.

“Council must do more to future proof our communities for the impacts of a changing climate including greater investment into Urban Greening projects to keep our communities and streets cool and leafy.”


State Greens MP, Sue Higginson, MLC, said Illawarra is on the frontline of the biggest challenges and opportunities that NSW faces, and her party are ready to tackle the big issues without the baggage of vested interests.


Story by Mick Roberts in The Bulli & Clifton Times, 29 February 2024.

Greens announce their Wollongong council election candidates

"It might be a challenge but I've never shied away from a challenge," Ms Whittaker said at the Greens' candidate launch.

"I think we've seen in Shellharbour we've had a first-time Mayor who's never been a councillor and it's been very successful.

"I'm someone who likes to have a go. I have really strong community values and I think as long as I represent what people are asking and stay connected to the community then I can get the job done."

Ms Whittaker praised the "integrity" of Cr Bradbery but felt "we're ready for some new ideas and a fresh approach to council".

"I think the last council operated really well because there was no one block who was in control," she said.

"Decisions had been made collaboratively and I think that's the best way to work. I'm a great collaborator and I hope the next council has a good balance rather than a big block of one party."


"It took me a lot of time to consider because I feel it's very onerous to get involved in something as a volunteer in this kind of way," Ms Stuart said.

"I suppose what buoyed me, I talked to Cath and Mithra and I talked to other people in the Greens. They told me there would be a team that would help me look through documents and help think through things. No-one can be an expert on everything."


"One of the things I loved the most, even though obviously didn't end up in parliament, was hearing people's stories," Mr Docker said.

"Hearing the challenges they've been facing and being able to take it to some sort of platform, like the media, and help elevate and promote their voices.

"There are a lot of people in the community, vulnerable people, who are simply not heard. I hope whether I make it on council or not that I can promote and elevate the concerns of those most vulnerable in our community."


Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 15 February 2024.

Greens announce new candidate for Wollongong lord mayor

"It's time for a fresh approach to how our city council operates," Ms Whittaker said.

Ms Whittaker said in the midst of a housing crisis it was time for Council to take on a more active role in addressing housing affordability, such as collecting windfall profits where upzoning occurs and including social and affordable housing as part of planning agreements.

"At the moment, it's basically crumbs," she said. "Considering the large profits that developers are making, it's quite shocking that wasn't able to be 10 or 20 per cent."

Ms Whittaker said increasing supply, without stipulating that units be set aside as social or affordable housing, would do little to address soaring rents and house prices. "Having people near transport hubs is something the Greens support, because it reduces cars on the road, we just have to make sure that there's trains on the train lines."

"I want to be able to see people not being trapped in their homes and able to get about the community freely without being fearful of cars," she said. "Safe routes to school, access for the disabled, we'll really focusing on getting all those upgrades happening around the city, building on the work that the last council has done."

Ms Whittaker was the lead Greens candidate for Ward 3 in 2021. 2024 is shaping up to be a very different contest. "We weren't allowed to door-knock, we couldn't have how to vote cards, we would have candidate forums where no one would turn up because everyone was terrified for COVID." "I feel like that was a bit of a training ground and I'm more confident now and I have an idea of how you win a campaign which is to get out and talk to as many people as you can.

"Listen to people and then things they are telling you, put those ideas forward and fight for them."


Story by Connor Pearce in the Illawarra Mercury, 15 February 2024.

An unprecedented collaboration is underway between BlueScope Australia and two mining giants to decarbonise steelmaking.

Greens Councillor Cath Blakey:

"We've been dismayed that the Blast Furnace reline is going ahead. That's a billion dollar investment that I'm sure will become a stranded asset. It locks in pollution for decades to come."

On pilot location: "I'd like to think it should be Wollongong, because we've got existing workforces and existing infrastructure."

Story by Eva Baxter, WIN News, 12 February 2024.

Russell Vale mine closure could leave taxpayers with multimillion dollar bill

Wollongong Greens councillor Cath Blakey said there was a "big risk" that the community would have to pay for the eventual remediation of Russell Vale mine.

Story by Connor Pearce in the Illawarra Mercury, 9 February 2024.

Wollongong affordable housing fund secures just two families a home

Councillor Mithra Cox said while Council's ability to intervene in the housing market was limited the scheme had not yet had a significant impact on housing affordability.

"It's an absolute drop in the ocean," she said. "A couple of housing units is really not going to touch the sides, but when you think about how much it costs to buy a house, it's difficult to stretch that money to a lot of people."

Ms Cox said without significant government interventions, which were out of reach of local governments, this would continue to be the case.

"Massively increasing the amount of social housing in the system is one of the key things that would improve housing affordability," she said. "That said, it's outside of council's remit to do that."

Story by Connor Pearce in the Illawarra Mercury, 14 December 2023.

We stand with you: Wollongong council's message to Palestine war victims

Wollongong councillors have voted to stand with the victims of the war in Palestine.

Greens councillor Cath Blakey brought a motion before Wollongong City Council calling on councillors to reiterate the city's "commitment to the human rights of all people to live with freedom, safety and self-determination".

Cr Blakey also wanted council to acknowledge "the anguish and pain that the war in Palestine and Israel is causing to many people in the Wollongong community".

"I'd like to see this city join the diplomatic chorus for a ceasefire, oppose the killing and collective punishment of civilians and also join the chorus to release hostages and political prisoners and support that diverse community we have here in Wollongong," Cr Blakey said.

"This council was also addressed by community members last meeting with a compelling request that council request the federal government to vote for a ceasefire," Cr Blakey said. "Over the last nine weeks the Wollongong community has been rocked by the attacks by Hamas and the Israel Defence Force on civilians since the seventh of October.

"In Wollongong there have been nine weeks of actions ranging from prayer sessions, weekly protest rallies and marches [and] student strikes. These community events have included a wide range of participants with Palestinian and Arabic voices combined with Israeli and Jewish voices."

Cr Blakey's vote was passed unanimously.

Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 11 December 2023.

Renewable energy the 'quick and easy' solution to emissions control

Renewable energy sources like wind farms were "the quickest and easiest ways" to reduce emissions linked to electricity use, Wollongong councillor Mithra Cox said.

The Greens councillor was speaking on the decision to adopt a plan for Wollongong City Council to address the issue of climate change through to the end of the decade. The Climate Change Mitigation Plan 2023-30 followed on from the 2020-22 plan and sets a target of zero emissions for council operations by 2030 and net zero emissions for the city by 2050.

Cr Cox said those targets were dependent on the decarbonisation of the electricity grid. "It's the quickest and easiest way to make fast reductions but this is dependent on state and federal targets being met to reduce emissions from electricity."

"Then that is largely dependent on large-scale renewable being built for which there is a proposal for an offshore wind zone here in Wollongong. I'm really proud of the position and leadership council has shown in supporting that and I hope we're able to continue to advocate for that because without those sort of projects happening we've got no chance of meeting the big reductions in electricity decarbonisation."

Cr Cox also spoke of the problems around transportation emissions and, as the move to electric vehicles continued, that more charging options needed to be included in both residential spaces and council car parks.

"It's not going to be enough to have one or two in car parks, especially in multi-unit apartments where parking might be underground."

"It's really, really important that the electricity infrastructure is put in at the time those apartments are being built and that they are delivered to every single parking space, otherwise those car parks will be there for 100 years and won't have the infrastructure in place."

"Similarly our own parking stations, as we upgrade them, will need an electricity connection to every parking space."


Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 28 November 2023.

Port Kembla tree vandalism spree sparks urgent calls for stronger penalties

Wollongong Greens Councillor Cath Blakey agreed with Ms Whittaker it was a "selfish act", and suggested more "creative means" could be used in the area to deter vandals.

"Like we saw with the Belmore Basin billboard of community artworks and photos of the tea trees, the Brighton Le Sands containers decorated in murals of native plants and wildlife, or the Noosa's billboards which have an image of a beautiful Rainbow Bee-eater alongside the words 'who destroyed my home'," Cr Blakey told the Mercury.

"These billboards and containers are large and onsite while newly planted trees regrow. There is also an opportunity for community education and artistic celebration of our native plants and wildlife."


Story by Desiree Savage in the Illawarra Mercury, 14 November 2023.

Decriminalize bike riding on footpaths

Wollongong council to push for bikes to be allowed on footpaths and buses

Greens councillor Cath Blakey, said the changes would help get more people using bikes and were supported by the city's adopted cycling strategy.

Cr Blakey said she was in favour of all ages being able to ride on footpaths as it would especially allow more young people and women to feel safe while riding in busy areas without shared paths or cycling infrastructure. She said cyclists were allowed on footpaths in most states and territories, with NSW and Victoria the only two to outlaw riding on footpaths as a rule.

"I recognise some people are concerned about risks to pedestrians, and it is really important to give way to pedestrians, but this is mostly about formalising what already happens when people feel unsafe riding on the road anyway," she said.

"The problem with the rules now, is that police can apply them with discretion, which leads to some people being targeted and fined, while others are left alone."

She said allowing cyclists to ride of the footpath was just one of the improvements needed to encourage cycling, and needed to be combined with investment in dedicated cycling infrastructure.

"Personally, I don't actually like riding on the footpath - because you have to contend with driveways and other infrastructure - but there are some places you just don't feel safe riding on the road," she said. "This is not a perfect situation, and if we could retrofit cycleways on every single street I'd love to do that, but there's budget constraints and we can't change it overnight - so if we want people riding bikes now we need to change the rule."

Bike racks on buses makes public transport more viable: Cr Blakey said allowing bikes to be carried on buses would make public transport more viable for many people in Wollongong.

"I've ridden to work and then in the afternoon it's raining and you then have to leave your bike at work - so being able to have those mixed modes where you can put a bike on a train or on a bus would be really helpful," she said.

"In Wollongong, we've got lots of suburbs that are really hilly, so we can cycle down them but not necessarily back up - so having bike racks on buses would be great. "It would open up the catchment of people that are likely to catch the bus, because you can go so much further on a bike than you can walking, so there would be more people being able to get to the bus stop." She said bike racks could be installed as the bus fleet was upgraded, and would be able to be used on a first come, first served basis.


Story by Kate McIlwain at the Illawarra Mercury, 6 November 2023.

Wollongong council votes in favour of wind zone plans - with conditions

The Greens Mithra Cox said climate change was a mammoth task to solve and needed fast action, involving many forms of renewable energy if future generations were to have a livable planet.

"It's going to require a major economic and industrial transformation within our lifetimes and ideally within the next decade," she said.

"But the alternative does not bear thinking about. The sea level rise predictions for Wollongong, if we remain on the current emissions trajectory that we're currently on is three metres by 2100. My kids will still be alive."

She also took aim at the behaviour of people at the Thirroul forum saying she would not engage with people who "heckle an Aboriginal elder... shouts over the top of anyone with a different opinion, or sends fake information mocked up in Microsoft paint and claim it as evidence".

"If you don't care about the impacts of climate change on my generation and the generations to come, then don't expect me to engage on a deep level," she said.


Story by Kate McIlwain in the Illawarra Mercury, 9 October 2023.

Illawarra environmental groups back offshore wind plans

Councillors and others standing on Flagstaff Hill Wollongong with the proposed offshore wind farm zone in the background.

Greens Councillors Mithra Cox and Cath Blakey joined local environmental groups to support the designation of an Illawarra offshore wind power area.

Story by Connor Pearce in the Illawarra Mercury, September 24 2023.

Industry must play a part in Wollongong council's climate change plans

The council had an important role to play in reducing community emissions, Cr Mithra Cox said, through empowering people rather than telling them what to do.

"There is a really big role for council in ensuring that we can have all-electric homes, making sure that the electricity connections that they have in the kitchens are good enough that they have induction stoves," Cr Cox said.

"It's also ensuring that new buildings, particularly apartments, have electricity in the car parks in basements should people want to switch to electric vehicles.
"When you build an apartment, it's going to be there for the next 50, 70 or 80 years. The decisions we're going to be making are going to be with us for a long time."

Cr Cox also noted that the Whyte's Gully tip was the biggest source of the council emissions and that she didn't feel they could capture 100 per cent of them by 2030.


Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 18 September 2023.

South32 sponsors Ride Wollongong

The decision to appoint miner South32 as the naming rights sponsor of September’s Ride Wollongong festival has shocked the climate-conscious cycling community.

“The event’s a great idea. But I don’t want to go to it now, unless it’s part of an action to oppose the sponsorship,” says local cycling advocate Jess Whittaker.

“We’re in a climate emergency. I can’t look my kids in the eye and say, ‘We’re going to this cycling event – it’s paid for by a coal mine. And by the way, they’re burning your future and stuffing the water catchment.”

Ms Whittaker, a Port Kembla health care worker who ran as the Greens lead candidate in Ward 3 at the last Wollongong City Council election in December 2021, said: “You don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on a community event. The council should just be funding that.”

Despite being a keen cyclist, Ms Whittaker won’t be attending this month’s South32 Ride Wollongong festival.

“I just can’t do it. It was the same feeling I got at UCI when they were handing out all those yellow hats with South32 logos and I just felt so embarrassed. All these people come over from Europe and we’re in a climate emergency and here’s good old Wollongong handing out the hats for the coal mine.

“I actually took a hat home and embroidered ‘end coal’ on it and then wore it back the next day.”

Story by Genevieve Swart in The Illawarra Flame, 1 September 2023. (pdf download, archive)

Sharks nets kill other species and don't stop sharks - but they're back this summer

Giving all swimmers a free shark repellent wetsuit would be more effective against shark attacks than the nets about to be installed again off Wollongong beaches, Councillor Cath Blakey said.

Wollongong Greens councillor Cath Blakey said there were several alternatives to help protect swimmers that had been proven to be more effective and less deadly. These include tagged shark listening stations and drone surveillance.

"It would be far more effective for the NSW government gave any resident that wanted one a Shark Stop wetsuit, than deploy the shark nets which kill dolphins, turtles and rays and give a false sense of security," she said.

"There has also been shark smart training and accreditation of the regional drone fleet at Coledale and Stanwell Park (Surf Life Saving Clubs)."

"Plus there have also been other suggestions like the WA rebate for personal shark deterrent devices - electrical, magnetic and audio devices showing some benefit, but no guarantee."


Story by Ben Langford in the Illawarra Mercury, 22 August 2023.

Lake Illawarra, Bass Point nuclear power plant vision ridiculed

Wollongong Greens councillor Mithra Cox said it was "one of the silliest ideas I have ever heard".

"Why on earth would we want a toxic, expensive and risky nuclear reactor on Lake Illawarra or at Fitzroy Falls when we have the most abundant, cheap and safe renewable energy resources of anywhere in the world?" Cr Cox said.

"Look at Chernobyl, at Fukushima, as Zaporizhzia - when nuclear reactors have accidents, they are catastrophic."

"Solar power is the cheapest form of electricity in human history, and wind power is fast catching up."

"And they come without the huge environmental and safety risks of uranium mining and storage or radioactive waste - something which has not been solved anywhere in the world."

Story by Ben Langford in the Illawarra Mercury, 17 August 2023.

Primbee copper slag dump has its 'zombie licence' revoked by EPA

The company which sparked a furore at the old copper slag dump at Primbee is having its licence revoked, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said.

The Environment Protection Authority has moved to revoke Mimosa's pollution licence, saying it is not longer needed for the activities covered.

"The EPA wrote to the licensee to prepare and submit a scoping report to describe the activities to be undertaken at the premises and the proposed future use of the site," its notice states.

"The scoping report [submitted] proposed a number of activities for the premises including, but not limited to, the use of virgin excavated natural material to cover areas of exposed copper slag, and the proposed emplacement of alternative wastes not permitted to be received at the premises."

In January Wollongong Greens councillor Cath Blakey said the pollution licence shouldn't be able to hang around "like a zombie".

Story by Ben Langford in the Illawarra Mercury, 17 August 2023.


(Previously: Wollongong toxic waste site cleared prompting pollution fears for nearby homes, public wetland)

Wollongong Greens Councillor pushes for secure bike sheds at train stations

Wollongong City councillor Cath Blakey has a motion at Monday night's council meeting to write to Transport for NSW requesting secure bike sheds at Illawarra stations. The priority stations would be North Wollongong, Wollongong, Thirroul and Dapto.

Cr Blakey said a lack of secure places to leave a bike discourages people from using them.

"I've done it myself - I avoid riding to the station unless I take my bike on the train with me," Cr Blakey said.

"But I know people complain about that sometimes because our trains aren't really designed to have lots of bikes on them. You can block access to the stairs and the exit. I've seen people abuse cyclists for it but when there's no safe place to leave your bike that is the problem. It's a real barrier for people to ride to the station. A secure bike shed would be quite a cheap and really effective way to improve integrated transport."

Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 28 July 2023.

'Systemic failure' in Dendrobium mine's illegal use of drinking water catchment over five years

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said the fine showed why mining has no place in Sydney's drinking water catchment:

"The scale of this undertaking speaks to the impact that this mining is having on water resources in Sydney's drinking catchment."

"Investigations like these just go to show how vigilant we have to be in ensuring mining companies are acting in accordance with the law and responsibilities under their approvals."

"Illawarra Coal's application for a surface water licence must be rejected, especially considering that we're entering into a period of El Nino and likely associated drought conditions."


Story by Kate McIlwain in the Illawarra Mercury, 12 July 2023.

What does the federal government's new Defence Strategic Review mean for Australia and the Illawarra? Win News

Romy Gilbert from WIN News covered the briefing at Wollongong Council, and the WAWAN - Wollongong Against War and Nukes community meeting ahead of the May 6 - Port Kembla: March Against the Nuclear Base.


Councillor Cath Blakey said:

"I think it's incredibly alarming. It's like it's implied that this is what Wollongong is in for, that the Federal Government is working towards nuclear submarines here in Port Kembla."

"They've talked about consultation and this feels like it's the kicking off of that consultation."

"I want to see Port Kembla ruled out as the site for nuclear submarines, but I also want to see talk of diplomacy."

Wollongong creek turned bright green by mystery pollution

A resident reported it on Thursday afternoon and within an hour Wollongong City Council staff were on the scene to try and clean up.

At the scene on Friday morning Councillor Cath Blakey urged anyone with information to report it, so the culprit could be found.
"It's disgusting to see one of our local waterways being used to dump chemical waste," Cr Blakey told the Mercury.

"I'm really heartened though that someone reported it quickly and that council took quick action putting in a bund, trying to contain the pollutant, getting samples, and pumping some of it out.

"It's really important that if anyone knows anything they contact council or the EPA, so we can find out who's responsible, and not only take compliance action but also to get them actually to fund the recovery work."

Cr Blakey pointed out lizards and fish that were in and around the waterway, which was sustaining life despite running through an industrial area into Fairy Creek.

"I was contacted by a resident who's actually done some birding here and talked about seeing different birdlife ... we can see now there's fish and there's water dragons.

"So it's really terrible that someone has dumped this pollution into the creek.

Story by Ben Langford in the Illawarra Mercury, 28 April 2023.

Politicians split on possible Port Kembla nuclear subs base

Port Kembla is going to house a nuclear submarine base but the federal government isn't in any hurry to admit it. That's the theory of Greens Senator David Shoebridge in the wake of Monday's release of the Defence Strategic Review.

Sen Shoebridge believed that location was Port Kembla and the government was delaying any announcement until funding for the AUKUS subs project reached a level that made it too big to cancel.

"The review confirms the east coast for a nuclear-powered submarine facility but the government's refusal to confirm its exact location treats the people of the Illawarra like mugs," Sen Shoebridge said.

"Defence and the government have already indicated that Port Kembla is the preferred location for this facility. Putting off the confirmation of the exact location is essentially dishonest.

"The government needs to be honest with Australians, those living on the east coast and especially the Illawarra community and inform them of where this facility will be located before they lock in spending billions of dollars on these subs."


Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 25 April 2023.

In a sea of red, which Illawarra suburbs lean Green, Liberal or independent?


With Sydney tree-changers attracted to the area thanks to the pandemic and working from home its demographics are shifting, while its coastal climate exposure and things like Electrify 2515 movement mean there is a strong Greens vote in parts of the seat. This was especially evident in Austinmer, where more than 34 per cent of voters picked Greens candidate Cooper Riach as their first preference. Greens also did well in Bundeena, where candidate Cooper Riach is from, and the northern Illawarra's Coledale, Scarborough-Wombarra and Thirroul. In many of the Illawarra booths, the Greens did better than or on par with the Liberals, a trend not repeated in the Shire.

Overall though, the Green vote was not as strong as in the federal election, with Mr Riach only gaining 11.33 per cent of first preferences.



In the five places where Labor did worst (although it's worth noting that 'worst' here would, in any other area, be a very good result), it was mainly the Greens which took these votes. The Greens best booth in Keira was Smiths Hill High School, with more than 30 per cent of votes there going to Kit Docker - perhaps a sign of the priorities of some of the high-achieving 18-year-olds (and their parents) who attend the selective school? Other areas where a more young people live also had some of the seat's highest Greens votes - Wollongong West Public School, Wollongong Salvos in the CBD and Keiraville Public School.



... As for the Greens, recognisable candidate Cath Blakey attracted the region's strongest overall vote for the environmental party, with around 15 per cent of first preferences.
Her strongest support came from Keiraville and Wollongong Public Schools and Smith Hill High School - all in suburbs where a lot of university students and young people live.



With an independent and three minor party candidates running in Shellharbour, the Greens vote was much lower than the previous election. Jamie Dixon did best at the Hayes Park Public School booth, in Kanahooka, where he received just under 10 per cent of first preferences.



... the Greens did best at Berry and Kangaroo Valley.


Story by Kate McIlwain at the Illawarra Mercury, 30 March 2023.

Greens fell short of NSW election target in Illawarra

Wollongong Greens candidate Cath Blakey felt her profile as a sitting local councillor contributed to her increase in votes. "I'd like to think it was my track record and I think there's definitely some name recognition as well," Ms Blakey said.
"I was only pre-selected quite late so was a really short campaign. And there were federal issues that really came to the fore during the state election campaign with the leaked information about Port Kembla being a supposedly site for a potential nuclear submarine base."


Mr Dixon felt the fact there were seven candidates running in the seat, including Shellharbour Mayor Chris Homer, had an effect on the Greens' low numbers.
He also suggested the performance of the Legalise Cannabis candidate Mia Willmott with 4.04 per cent may have taken votes away from the Greens. "I think the amount of support for the Legalise Cannabis party is something that worth noting because there were probably people who were on board with that aspect of Greens policy but certainly chose to vote that way as their preference," Mr Dixon said.


Both Ms Blakey and Mr Dixon felt the support for the Labor party was also a factor in reducing the Greens' vote. "There was such an appetite for a change of government that not quite as many votes was swung away from the major parties as we had hoped," Mr Dixon said.


Ms Blakey felt it was "hard" for the Greens to do well when there was a swing towards Labor. "That won't be the case at the next state election - they will be an incumbent at the next state election," she said. The secret to increasing the Greens' vote was more door-knocking, Ms Blakey said. "Where the Greens have done really well, what they've done is build great field campaigns of people out door-knocking," she said. "We did a bit of that but if we want to increase our vote we have to keep doing that."


Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 30 March 2023.