Wyndham residents have labelled the latest overseas trips by two council delegations a “waste of money”.
Ratepayers will shoulder $80,000 in travel costs to send four Wyndham councillors, the council’s chief executive and two directors to China and the US on official business, as reported in Star Weekly last week.
Wyndham mayor Mia Shaw, cultural diversity portfolio holder Henry Barlow and deals, investment and major projects director Kate Roffey this week returned from China, where they finalised a Sister Cities agreement with Changzhou to develop economic, trade and cultural ties. The trip cost $16,500.
Wyndham chief executive Kelly Grigsby will be accompanied this weekend by strategy and policy impact head Natalie Walker and councillors Kim McAliney and Josh Gilligan on a $65,000, 12-day study tour to New York, Washington and San Francisco with the Urban Development Institute of Australia.
Residents took to Facebook to call the expenditure “poor form” and “ridiculous”.
“Waste of money could be spent on fixing Ballan Road … we have been waiting 30 years for it to be widened,” one Werribee resident posted on Facebook.
“Disgusting,” another wrote. “At a time when some community sports groups can’t even get a carpark for the members to participate in a healthy activity. We are faced with abuse of ratepayer’s money, we have Google, live streaming, conference calling at our fingertips.
“Money wasted, as was the rubbish recycling trips we funded some years back, nothing that cannot be done with simple communication.”
One resident commended the council for its transparency about the travel and encouraged residents to keep council accountable for achieving the trips’ objectives.
Cr Shaw said the sister cities relationship, two years in the making, would provide access to new opportunities.
“I understand that some people are not always supportive of overseas travel,” she said.
“However, given that we are set to be the size of Canberra, we need to make things happen for ourselves and generate investment for jobs and infrastructure.”