RATEPAYER-FUNDED hospitality at Warrnambool’s May Racing Carnival costs more than $17,000, council figures reveal.
The city council has hosted an exclusive social marquee for the main race day for more than a decade, but the festivities are coming under scrutiny after a request by Cr Peter Hulin for details to be made public.
An officer’s report presented to Monday night’s council meeting showed 90 people attended the marquee on May 1. But Cr Hulin disputed the figure, suggesting attendance was far lower.
The council figures show $6610 was spent on facilities including staff, security, decorations, flooring, chairs and tables. Hors d’oeuvres and other food cost $3762, which equated to roughly $41 per person, while alcohol and soft drinks cost $1489, about $16.50 each.
Nearly $5000 was spent on course admission tickets and wristbands, while race books were provided at a cost of $225. The guest list included 168 politicians, government officials and civic leaders. About 60 per cent of invitees visited the marquee.
The figures were released after Cr Hulin made a successful notice of motion calling for the marquee costs and attendance list to be made public. “I was at the marquee and I doubt there was 90 people there on the day,” Cr Hulin said.
“There was probably 50, maybe less, which means the cost per person is far higher than what the figures suggest.
“The ratepayers are entitled to wonder if they’re getting value for money.” Figures invited to the marquee included Premier Denis Napthine, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, Wannon MP Dan Tehan, Deakin University vice chancellor Jane den Hollander, South West TAFE chief Peter Heilbuth, Wannon Water boss Grant Green, South West Healthcare chief John Krygger, St John of God Warrnambool chief Glen Power and Commerce Warrnambool president Tony Herbert.
Representatives from all south-west councils, regional city councils, top bureaucrats from state departments, Maddocks Lawyers and the regional tourism board made the list.
Two “business associates” of Cr Brian Kelson were also present.
Cr Hulin said councillors should be given the power to invite movers and shakers from the business community.
He said the networking potential of the marquee was being undervalued.
“The management of the whole thing was shabby,” Cr Hulin said.