WAGGA City Council may be undergoing an unprecedented period of turmoil, but mayor Rod Kendall has defended undertaking a ratepayer-funded trip to China this month in the midst of the crisis.
Council has been under siege in recent weeks after two key business partners – Traxion and Douglas Aerospace – fell into administration.
Cr Kendall, along with economic development director Peter Adams, will travel to Kunming later this month, as part of a visit to Wagga’s sister city, and will also lead a business delegation at an Import-Export Fair in the city.
Council initially resolved in February to use $7500 of ratepayer money to fund the trip, with general manager Phil Pinyon initially slated to make the trip to China instead of Dr Adams.
“Phil let me know with some of the things going on, he needed to be here,” Cr Kendall said.
A number of Wagga business leaders will also be undertaking the trip at their own expense, along with councillor Kevin Poynter who has also funded his own travel plans.
Cr Kendall said the visit would be of benefit to the Wagga business community and declared he would still be playing an active part in council affairs, despite being in another hemisphere.
“I don’t expect in any way to be disconnected from the decision making that has to go on while we’re away,” he said.
“It’s just as easy to be kept informing in Kunming than if I had to make a trip to Sydney, Melbourne or out to Lockhart for example.”
However, councillor Paul Funnell has queried the decision to go ahead with the trip in light of recent events, declaring he “questioned the integrity of everything taking place at the moment”.
“It’s important to keep options open and investigate opportunities, however given the current circumstances, I still question if it’s appropriate given the current issues we’re faced with and the current economic climate,” he said.
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