Ballarat City Council to talk cultural successes in Lisbon

Cr Mark Harris

Cr Mark Harris

A second ratepayer funded business trip to Europe in as many months has been proposed for a Ballarat City Council staff member in November.

The motion before council’s ordinary general meeting on Wednesday night proposed council spend $3370 for premium economy flights to Lisbon, Portugal.

Approval would send a staff member to the Intercultural Cities Conference.

The Council of Europe issued the invitation to attend, will cover accommodation costs and provide about $2200 to cover expenses.

Ballarat City deputy mayor Mark Harris said he did not personally agree with overseas trips for staff.

“I don’t think it is particularly useful, but that is my personal opinion, because council has endorsed it in the past,” he said.

“When you think most meetings for any other sections of society can be done via computer, the utility of international conferences become less and less.

“I question whether or not we need officers or councillors to go overseas.”

A council report said it would cost $8103 to approve business class flights instead.

The conference discusses successful approaches to migrant and refugee inclusion policy at local government, state and federal levels.

Ballarat was the first Australian city to be made a member of the Intercultural Cities network in 2016.

Maribyrnong, Melton and Brimbank City councils are working on accreditation with the network.

Cr Harris said council should also consider the cost of covering a staff member who is sent overseas.

“If you are taking officers offline, you don’t get their services for that time, so there are hidden costs,” he said.