Are council trips overseas worth the cost?
EDITORIAL: If there are ever constants in regional communities, questioning council spending habits would have to be one of the most popular.
And the Toowoomba Regional Council's busy travel schedule in 2017 is no exception, with plenty of ratepayers expressing their bemusement and frustration as we foot the bill for several delegations to foreign nations.
The ferocious backlash from the last trip to Japan in March has seemingly scared the councillors off from joining four different overseas events in China, South Korea and New Zealand. (pages 1-2).
The Japan trip ended up costing nearly double what was originally estimated, and the final travel bill from 2017 will cost tens of thousands.
I am sceptical when it comes to what our council considers a worthwhile investment, but the potential benefits of delegations to China are undeniable.
In communist China, local government is at the forefront of business negotiations so visits from mayors are actually crucial to positive outcomes.
The region we have an memorandum of understanding with, Yuecheng District, has 20 million people in it, a huge appetite for fresh produce and an international airport.
China is Australia's largest trading partner, by some margin. We need to foster this at every level of government.
But the latest development is a reminder that the council must be mindful of its spending habits, or else it faces the wrath of the voting public.