A CONTROVERSIAL call to dump Wagga's sister city in China has drawn the ire of a former mayor of the city.
Wagga councillor Paul Funnell plans to call on other councillors at Tuesday night's meeting to back his request that could sever the city's 32 year friendship with Kunming, as well as any arrangements and friendships associated with China.
However Peter Dale, who served on the council for 25 years, said it was unwise to destroy a decades-long relationship with the people of Kunming merely to send a message to its government.
Wagga has connections to three cities around the world as part of a sister city program, including Leavenworth in the United States and Nordlingen in Germany.
Kunming was Wagga's last sister city relationship to be established and Mr Dale played an instrumental role in its formation back in 1988.
"We worked very hard to build those bridges and now is not the time to be knocking them down because there will be a future relationship with China," Mr Dale said.
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"I don't see any grounds of destroying [this connection] on the basis ... that it would harm or send a message to the Chinese government."
In a report to the council, Cr Funnell stated his request to sever links to Kunming came in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic where China's "inaction post virus outbreak" had brought "death and destruction across the world".
The outbreak of coronavirus happened in Wuhan, which is 1567 kilometres away from Kunming.
"We must make a decision, take a stance, show solidarity, sever ties and show leadership and representation of and for the very people that elected us and defend all," Cr Funnell said in the report.
"This will send a clear message that we support a truly democratic and free society without fear nor favour of freedom of speech, opinion or thought, and that irresponsible governance will not be tolerated at any level."
Mr Dale said the connection to Kunming had provided many educational, cultural, business and tourism opportunities for Wagga during his time serving on the council - and has no doubt this continues to date.
He said one of the gifts Wagga received by its sister city was the "magnificent pavilion" in the botanic gardens which has become a drawcard.
"Workmen from China came and lived in a relocatable cabin in the park to build that absolutely unique, authentic Chinese pavilion. It's one of very few in Australia," he said.
Mr Dale said his previous trips to Kunming as a council delegate allowed the city to connect with other governors in the Yunnan province, which is made up of tens of millions of people.
He said the Chinese ambassador in Australia visited Wagga on several occasion with many other trade and cultural delegates.
"It was those connections that put Wagga on the map in that part of the world," he said.
While there were differences between China and Australia, Mr Dale said people must look to these connections to understand each other's way of life.
"[Our ties will] no doubt continue because China is essential to Australia's economy and to generate an understanding between our two cultures is extremely important," he said.
Cr Funnell's request to sever ties with Kunming will be raised at Tuesday night's council meeting. His bid could draw the support of Cr Yvonne Braid, who told The Daily Advertiser on Wednesday that she intends to back the motion.