MOYNE Shire councillor Jim Doukas has slammed a weekend resort conference for Victorian councillors, labelling it a “bludge”.
The former mayor’s comments came as Moyne councillors this week decided whether to attend the $1250 per head conference at the Creswick Novotel Forest Resort in July.
Organised by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), the councillor development conference promises a weekend of workshops and networking opportunities. Cr Doukas labelled it a money-making scheme.
“Things like this are just a get-together to make money for the MAV,” Cr Doukas said.
He doubted the conference speakers and questioned why councillor’s partners needed to attend the weekend.
“It sounds like a bludge. Look who’s speaking, they’re not going to help us,” he said.
“If you’re going to go and learn something you don’t need the wife and kids there ... or if she’s a councillor she doesn’t need her husband there.”
No councillors from Moyne Shire opted to attend the event. Later, MAV president Bill McArthur rejected the criticism, saying councillors gave up their weekend to work.
“They’re not there for a great time, it’s no party,” Cr McArthur said.
“People are going so they can better represent their communities.”
He pointed out that the conference had been running for more than 16 years.
Both state Local Government Minister Tim Bull and his opposition counterpart Richard Wynne are booked as speakers for the event.
Cr McArthur said the conference was an important chance for councils to fight on political issues including “the mad proposal by Labor for rate capping” and the Commonwealth government’s grant indexation freeze which will cost Victorian councils millions — including more $1 million for Moyne Shire.
That will also be high on the weekend’s agenda.
“Certainly the grant indexation freeze will be raised with the government and opposition,” Cr McArthur said.
Meanwhile, Warr-nambool City Council mayor Mike Neoh said it was up to individual councillors if they wanted to attend the event.
He said each councillor had a personal development budget.
“I’m not going but there may be some other councillors who attend,” Cr Neoh said.