THE Ballarat City Council’s $35,000 delegation to Japan has been scaled up.
Yangzhou, China, has been added to the delegation’s itinerary, with ratepayers contributing an extra $15,000 to cover the connecting flights and accommodation.
Councillors voted unanimously on Wednesday night to approve travel to Yangzhou from October 26 to 28 for mayor John Burt, councillor John Philips, chief executive officer Anthony Schinck and one council officer.
The four will then fly to Japan for a five-day, five-member delegation to Inagawa to mark the 25th anniversary of Ballarat’s sister city relationship.
A report considered by councillors said there were substantial cost advantages in undertaking linking flights before the start of the Inagawa visit.
The $15,000 cost would be less than half the expected costs if it was a standalone activity, the councillors heard.
Cr Burt and Mr Schinck travelled to Yangzhou last month for a League of Historical Cities board meeting and signed an official memorandum of understanding to develop opportunities between the two cities.
Cr Burt said they had been invited to return to China to look at social, cultural, and commercial development opportunities.
“I think there’s great potential that we will be able to get a lot out of it, and business will be able to establish contacts through meetings such as we’re having,” he said.
The council was asked to scale down the Japan trip last month after Ballarat residents were burdened with a hefty rate rise.
Ratepayers will pick up the bill for the official Inagawa delegation of Cr Burt and Cr Philips, chief executive officer Anthony Schinck, the council’s cultural partnerships officer and the Ballarat Citizen of the Year.
Up to 25 self-funded community members will be joining the delegation in Japan from October 30 to November 4
Mr Schinck justified the expenditure as part of an “an ongoing cultural exchange” with Inagawa that had been in place for 25 years.
In 2008, Inagawa sent 31 delegates to Ballarat to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the relationship.
Since the signing of the relationship in 1988 a civic delegation has occurred every five years, alternating between Ballarat and Inagawa.