TWO of the councillors who voted to snub Warrnambool’s Japanese sister city are sticking to their guns, claiming they weren’t briefed on the proposed visit or given sufficient information on its benefits.
Meanwhile, Cr Jacinta Ermacora is planning to introduce a rescission motion so another vote can be held when all councillors are next in attendance, which will be the October 21 council meeting.
Crs Peter Hulin, Peter Sycopoulis and Brian Kelson voted against the council spending $4000 to send mayor Michael Neoh and chief executive Bruce Anson to Miura to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the sister city relationship.
With Cr Neoh unable to vote due to a conflict of interest and Cr Kylie Gaston absent, Crs Hulin, Sycopoulis and Kelson won the vote.
Cr Ermacora’s planned rescission motion would put the matter back on the table for another vote.
Cr Sycopoulis told The Standard he wasn’t opposed to the visit — just ratepayers funding it.
“The chief executive and the mayor have always had my blessing if they wish to attend the festivities in Japan at their own cost,” he said.
“The recommendation at Monday night’s meeting was not asking permission to attend, it was simply seeking approval for the ratepayer to fund it.
“They have both already been to China recently and according to the 2012 Warrnambool City Council annual report the chief executive receives a weekly salary of approximately $5000 per week and the mayor receives an allowance of $69,325 per year.”
Cr Sycopoulis also claimed councillors were not briefed on the matter before the council meeting — a viewpoint backed up by Cr Hulin.
“The correct process wasn’t followed,” Cr Hulin said.
“We have a strict policy of no surprises — anything that comes to a council meeting has to come through a briefing session.
“By my memory, the last time we were briefed on anything about Miura was January.
“It may well be that (this visit) all stacks up but until that’s put in front of me, there’s no way I’m going to vote for it.”
The majority of comments on The Standard’s website have been in favour of the council paying for Cr Neoh and Mr Anson’s visit, but Cr Hulin said there had been “an unbelievable amount of support for our stance”.
“I think the majority of ratepayers want the proper process to be followed — it’s nothing more than that.”
He said he was yet to be convinced of the ongoing benefits of the sister city relationship, saying that just because something had been done for 20 years didn’t mean it should continue to be done.
Cr Kelson refused to comment.
The decision to snub Miura for the 20th anniversary met with derision from former mayors David Atkinson and Glenys Phillpot and former councillor Graeme Roger.
Cr Ermacora said she was putting the rescission motion forward because the vote did not reflect the council’s official position on the sister city relationship.
She also said she was concerned about the diplomatic ramifications of the vote.