Henry Thomas Hicks was possibly one of the earliest elected political representatives from Thirroul ?
Henry was active in local affairs from the 1880’s being elected as an Alderman for the North Illawarra Council in 1887 and 1888, still there in 1889. Like his father James Hicks before him, Henry pursued the establishment of public schools in the Northern Illawarra. In 1889 he presided over the opening of the Thirroul Public School. He was very active in the drive for the creation of North Bulli Shire Council, together with Mr Farraher. Henry attended meetings and acted on various committees supporting the creation of Bulli Shire Council during that period. In 1891 Henry decided not to recontest the North Illawarra Council elections – however he continued his involvement with the Reserve Rifles and St Augustine’s Bulli – as well as being the Senior JP in the district – hearing criminal court cases.
Henry’s son, Alexander, followed him onto the North Illawarra Council becoming its Mayor in 1905. Like his father, Alexander Hicks lobbied for the creation of Bulli Shire Council, which would not be formed until 1905. However none of the Hicks family seems to have served on the North Bulli Shire Council during 1905-1947.
Alexander Hicks was also president of the Illawarra Miners Association in 1903, 1904, 1905 and 1906 – including at the time of the Mt Kembla Coal Mine Disaster – he appeared at the Inquiry into the Disaster and, as Mayor, spoke at the Memorial Service.
The North Bulli Shire Council was not very long-lived. In 1947 the councils would be merged to form the City of Greater Wollongong Council. And in 1989, Henry Thomas Hicks’ great great granddaughter, Kerrie Anne Christian, nee Adams, was narrowly defeated in a city wide by-election of Wollongong City Council. She was successful in Ward One elections in 1991, 1995 and 1995, but did not contest the 2004 elections. In total Kerrie served a total of over 12 years on Wollongong City Council (see below for more on history of Local Government in the Illawarra).
Yet another of Henry’s Great Great Granddaughters had dabbled in ALP politics for a time, but the in end chose not to pursue seeking elected office in the Shellharbour Council.
History of Local Government in the Illawarra.
As part of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the formation of the City of Greater Wollongong in 1947, Jim Hagan and Andrew Wells were commissioned to produce a book ” A History of Wollongong”. Although the book goes well beyond local government concerns, it also includes the evolution of the local government arena from 1843 till 1947.
Prior to the Municipalities Act of 1858, the Illawarra District Council had already formed in 1843, but was not very active.
The 1858 Act laid down the process for incorporation of local government areas, and thus Wollongong became incorporated on February 28 1859. It was one of the two earliest to be formed under the 1858 Act. The Central Illawarra Municipality and Shellharbour were formed in 1859. The North Illawarra Municipality was formed in 1868 and seems to have extended from Fairy Meadow up to but not including the northern coal districts. As such the Hicks family properties would have been part of the North Illawarra Municipality.
After years of lobbying, in 1906 Bulli Shire Council was formed, arising from the NSW Local Government Act of 1906. Bulli Shire covered from north of Corrimal up to Helensburgh and the Royal National Park. Thus finally the unincorporated and rates-free northern coal districts were incorporated into a municipal council.
Another Local Government Act was proclaimed in 1919, and whilst amended many times, would remain in force until the Local Government Act of 1993.
In the post WWII era pressures to merge local councils strengthened, and interestingly Bulli Shire initially supported the merger proposals whereas North Illawarra did not. The Labour Party and Communist Party were both active prior to the Merger of Wollongong, Central Illawarra, North Illawarra and Bulli Shire Council into the City of Greater Wollongong in 1947.
In 2008, four years after Kerrie Christian had retired from elected office, Wollongong City Council was dismissed by the NSW Minister for Local Government, and Administrators appointed. Dismissal of Shellharbour Council followed suit soon after. Democratic elections were not held in either council until September 2011.