Council contingent's $8544 trip to Canberra called into question

ORANGE City Council has defended its decision to send five representatives to a conference in Canberra last week after a quorum was only just reached at Tuesday’s council meeting.

ORANGE City Council has defended its decision to send five representatives to a conference in Canberra last week after a quorum was only just reached at Tuesday’s council meeting.

ORANGE City Council has defended its decision to send five representatives to a conference in Canberra last week after a quorum was only just reached at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The Australian Local Government Association’s (ALGA) annual conference brought together 900 delegates from across the nation.

Orange City Council sent mayor John Davis, councillors Ron Gander, Kevin Duffy and Scott Munro, and acting general manager Chris Devitt.

The four-night trip cost ratepayers $8544, including accommodation, meals and conference registration.

By comparison, Cabonne Council only sent mayor Ian Gosper and general manager Andrew Hopkins at a cost of $2115.

Spokesman Dale Jones said it had been a long-standing convention to send only the mayor and general manager. The two were required for meetings later in the week, so they were only booked in for two days of the conference and covered their own meals.

With councillor Neil Jones absent for personal reasons, councillors Chris Gryllis, Ash Brown, Reg Kidd, Russell Turner and Jason Hamling postponed the start of council’s general meeting for 10 minutes until councillors Glenn Taylor and Jeff Whitton arrived to complete the quorum. Meetings must have a minimum of seven councillors.

However, Cr Davis said it was crucial for Orange City Council to be represented at the ALGA conference. 

“The federal budget process has been tougher than a lot of people would like and we have to be there to see what outcomes and what effects that would have on councils,” he said.

While he said the number of councillors attending was always debatable and this year had been a quieter year for funding applications, the ALGA conference was a good way for councillors to learn more about local government and how to lobby federal politicians for project dollars.

“It’s not fun and games, it’s tense, hard work. Sometimes the expectations are not met, but that’s part of being a councillor.”

Among the resolutions from the conference was a call for the federal government to reverse the freezing of indexation for the Financial Assistance Grants, which contributes to councils’ budgets.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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