From the NZ Herald:
Six councillors, 22 local board members, three Maori Statutory Board members and five council staff fly to Queenstown tomorrow for the two-day conference.
They will stay in the “spellbinding luxury” of the Millennium and Copthorne Resort Lakefront hotels.
The 21 local boards were told they could nominate only one member each to go to the conference, but Franklin Local Board has three spots and the Maungakiekie and Otara-Papatoetoe local boards two each.
The cost per delegate is $2600, including registration, flights and accommodation. Taxis, meals and other expenses are to be added.
Delegates have been given taxi chits, and told to charge meals to a corporate travel company.
Most of the cost for deputy mayor Penny Hulse is being paid by Local Government NZ in her role as chairwoman of its metro sector.
First of all, kudos to those who are paying out of their own pocket for their spouses to come along. I have no issue with that what so ever and is not a reason for angst in this post – so thank you to those who are paying out of their own pocket.
But for the rest of it – WHAT THE HELL!
Councillors are under fire for spending $10.6 million to secure the return of the V8 Supercars to Pukekohe, and rates bills bringing increases of up to 10 per cent will hit letterboxes next month.
You don’t say! And especially when this comment comes up from one of the Local Boards:
There are of course Boards who have discussed the LGA with their MP’s made a submission and stayed home – trying to be fiscally responsible in these tough times
Thank you to that Local Board (or Boards) who did exercise restraint in such fiscally tight and sensitive times – to the ratepayer!
I am trying to figure out hell on Earth can Auckland Council justify $2,583.33 per person going and that is not including taxis, food and any extra activities when they: were pushing for a fiscally responsible Long Term Plan, then go strip millions off Local Boards, then go blow in the most dodgy decision-making process I have ever seen at Local level $10.6m on hosting the V8s at Pukekohe (remember the V8s do not bother me, it was the process in allowing the hosting that did), then having the Mayor take off to the Pacific Islands on some trade trip that the Minister of Trade could have done, then finally go blow $93,000 on this conference in one of the most top end resorts in the peak season (so high tariffs any how) at Queenstown…!
A quick look on Air New Zealand (and they are not the cheapest airline to boot) gives me a $1,346 one way fare to London, or a $627 one way flight to Melbourne in BUSINESS CLASS (so multiply those fares 1.5x to get the return fare and accommodation – just like this Queenstown package here); and what is more here is that I am bound to get more of an education and sightseeing trip at those two destinations rather than Queenstown (sorry no disrespect to Queenstown there intended – it is just I do not like snow nor skiing).
If Auckland did need to go to this junket; then the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, an administrator (someone needs to keep an eye on the delegation ), and 2 oppositional councillors should have gone with anyone else wanting to go to pay for themselves!
So who was the fiscally irresponsible person who signed off on this one? <_< I am sure Rotorua or even a video conference on Skype would have sufficed here for this talk fest.
The Local Government Official Information and Meeting Act will be getting a work out when the returns are filed at the end of next week to see what was spent where by this super-sized delegation. If I won’t be filing the requests I know Whale Oil will be for sure…
Let that be a warning to the delegation: We the ratepayers are watching you very VERY carefully – and to say the least we are not amused, especially when we get told to tighten the belt.
Bad timing and taste for this junket – for sure
What to do about – I hear 2013 is not too far away
Oh and one a final note: The Hamilton City Council is sending five delegates to the conference. <<< Think they might of learnt something
PSS: Lots of photos please