Wyndham councillors and staff have claimed more than $107,000 in overseas and interstate trips in the past seven months.
The council’s travel register, which details all interstate and overseas travel by councillors and officers, reveals staff made 43 travel claims between April 19 and November 23 this year, including 25 interstate and three international trips.
In 2016, council staff claimed $98,621 in travel-related expenses.
The most expensive individual claim was $12,468 from city economy director Kate Roffey for an 11-day visit to China in May for the Victoria-Jiangsu Business Placement Program.
Ms Roffey said she held more than 15 “high level” meetings during the visit and that a number of successful outcomes had been generated by the trip, including a recent return visit from the Changzhou delegation; a conversation with Chinese tourism developer Fullshare regarding tourism opportunities and contact from a Changzhou-based business about the development of a co-working hub in Wyndham.
Other Wyndham travel claims included:
•$20,260 for two councillors and two council officers to attend the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona;
•$7002 for two council officers to attend the Institute for Public Works Engineering Australia’s International Public Works Office event in Perth;
•$4913 for two council officers to attend the Australian Digital Government Summit in Sydney;
•$4018 for then-mayor Henry Barlow, chief executive Kelly Grigsby and another council officer to be part of a three-day LeadWest delegation to Canberra; and
•More than $4000 for six council staff – two councillors, the chief executive and three officers – to attend the Australian Local Government Association’s National Assembly of Local Government in Canberra. Two of those six trips were funded by the state government.
Ms Grigsby said all travel was approved by either herself or a member of the executive.
“Given the size of the organisation and complex range of services and projects the city is responsible for, travel is a necessary part of doing business,” she said.
“With that said, we also limit travel whenever possible to occasions where there is no other alternative or where the benefit outweighs the cost.”