A BUNCH of councillors and staff from Melville and Cockburn councils are packing their bags for a 10-day tour of Asia and Europe to study waste-to-energy technology. Just don’t call the $6000 per person mystery trip a junket.
Despite not having an itinerary before them, Melville councillors voted to approve sending six people on the May trip, costing ratepayers a cool $36,000.
After the vote, the Herald asked the council for the itinerary and it took four days to send this eight-word reply “a final itinerary has still to be confirmed”.
The Herald understands visits to Singapore, Manchester, London, Berlin and Poland are in the mix, including a visit to the World Waste to Energy Summit in London where the weary travellers will hear about topics such as ““UK election result: What will it mean for the waste to energy industry?” and “is heat really an option for the UK?”.
They’ll also hear an address from weapons developer Lockheed Martin on topics like treating hazardous waste. Each day of the £1,195 per ticket conference includes four “networking breaks” per day.
When Melville councillor Susanne Taylor-Rees mentioned the word “junket” in reference to a similar state government trip to Japan, she was ordered to withdraw the word (despite her reliance on the Oxford dictionary’s definition it is a trip funded at public expense).
Cr Taylor-Rees voted against the trip as she didn’t receive answers to her questions, such as where exactly the tour would be visiting, nor how long the summit has been running.
Her questions were cut short when Cr Mark Reynolds moved the motion endorsing the trip be voted on immediately.
“I voted against the motion because of a lack of information provided,” Cr Taylor-Rees says. “I was trying to ask questions to gain further information on the subject but the motion was put which effectively ended discussion.”
Cr Nick Pazolli was the only other Melville councillor to vote against it, saying it held little relevance to ratepayers. He says such conferences are often marketed to groups running waste-to-energy plants and Melville isn’t going to be a supplier in the long term, with the state government looking at privatising such facilities.
“Anything gleaned from this visit would not be greatly useful,” he said.
Representing Melville on the tour will be Crs Cameron Schuster, Clive Robartson and Robert Willis. CEO Shayne Silcox is going too, as are technical director John Christie and finance chief Martin Tieleman.
We called Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett to ask him who from his council is going but as soon as we mentioned the tour he told us to call his media minders.
by DAVID BELL