Hub battle to reach parliament

WITH 10,000 signatures gathered by the Stop the Hub Community Group - the biggest question has been the political hot potato of who will table the document at state parliament.

Under the Barry O'Farrell government, the people's petition was introduced in 2011 to "restore power to the people".

The move gives residents the opportunity to put matters on the parliamentary agenda via selected local Members of Parliament.

Diane Quinlin, from Stop the Hub said they would ask Kiama MP Gareth Ward to table the petition because of his stance against the $57 million hub but would not approach member for Shellharbour Anna Watson.

"We want someone to reflect the views of the community," she said.

"We want someone who is going to speak against the city hub with conviction."

Ms Quinlin said the group hoped tabling the petition would draw the attention of the Minister for Local Government, Paul Toole, and lead to the matter being investigated.

"We believe that once this is made public, the state government should stop construction of the City Hub," Ms Quinlin said.

Mr Ward said that "out of professional courtesy" to Ms Watson he would only table the report if she refused to do so.

"Should Ms Watson be unable or unwilling to discharge her responsibilities in this regard, I would be more than happy to table this petition on behalf of concerned residents," Mr Ward said.

"I remain opposed to the proposed hub due to a lack of consultation and the degree of debt which will be imposed on residents and ratepayers."

Ms Watson questioned Mr Ward's intentions and said the state government had little say in local government projects.

"How does Mr Ward intend to stop a local government project when his own former Minister for Local Government confirmed the state government has no decision-making authority over it?" Ms Watson said.

"It's simply not good enough for Mr Ward to just table it and make an empty speech of hot air.

"He raised the expectations of 10,000 petitioners who now have a right to expect the Shellharbour Hub project will be stopped in its tracks by the state Liberal government."

Mr Ward said the intention of a petition was to bring the matter to the floor of the state parliament for discussion.

"At no stage have I said that this petition will stop the hub; I have been quite clear about that," he said.

"This petition will trigger a response from the Minister for Local Government but the decision [for] the city hub entirely rests with the Shellharbour councillors."

So far, of the seven councillors: Kellie Marsh and Peter Moran oppose the proposal for various reasons, Cr Helen Stewart has not yet come to a decision, Crs David Boyle and Mayor Marianne Saliba reserve their opinion until it comes back to council and Crs Paul Rankin and John Murray support the project.

A council spokesperson said the state government set out various procedural steps that local governments have to comply with for projects of this size.

"The City Hub project has gone through an extensive process in accordance with the regulations of the state government and has been subjected to scrutiny to additional government procedures to ensure its feasibility," the spokesperson said.

The project is being reviewed by the Joint Regional Planning Panel and a tender is in place to seek a contractor for the development of the project.

It is expected to be finalised by October or November this year.

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