Cost of Fremantle Mayors Rate Payer Funded Junket, Doubles

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Last week I posted a piece called Fremantle Junket. based on the agenda from the full council meeting of Feb 2015.

In this I reported that the mayor has made a request to have 50% of his trip to funded by the COF to look at cities in Europe.

Now as Brad was the topic of discussion he quite rightly left the chambers.

Josh the deputy mayor took the chair and made an ammendment. Now I have a copy of the minutes pg 135. (at times it was quite hard to hear clearly what is being said in chambers, not to mention no copies of minutes available again)  it shows where Josh has gone against the Officers recommendation and offered an ammendment to double the amount the Mayor had requested from council for funding which the officers recommended at 50%?

The voting remains the same with Bill Massie showing good governance by voting against the doubling of the mayors funded junket.

The rest of the councillors voting to double the Mayors funding for his European Junket.

Not forgetting the mayor is NOT using the remaining of his study/conference budget  $1586, thats being kept for other activities in the year?

So if the mayor had as it seems requested 50% funding the officers reportidly supported this, why was it necessary for Josh to Double the mayor request and the officers ecommendation, was this in the best interest of the Fremantle Rate Payers.

I doubt Fremantle rate payers will see any benefit in this, just as we saw little out of the Junket to Japan to look at incinerators, to burn rubbish?

If these issues concern you about local government decisions you should also read this? A good article reporting on questioning good governance in local government in WA.

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3 comments

  1. Josh Wilson says:

    Mark, that’s an inaccurate and loaded presentation of the issue. The Mayor was invited by the Local Government Planning Association to attend a rapid and focused tour of cities that exemplify good urban design, planning and function – and are the subject of a substantial piece of research. While the Mayor, to his credit, suggested he would bear half the cost, I believe that considering the value of the trip, the relatively modest cost, and the fact that both the Mayor and Councillors in the City of Fremantle (1) quite rightly receive only minimal and essential allowances that must be properly acquitted (as opposed, for e.g. to the several thousands of dollars that City of Perth Councillors and Mayor receive for clothing!), and (2) generally under-utilise the allowances that are available for the purpose of travel/conferences, it was reasonable for the cost of the tour to be covered. As you may recall, before moving the amendment I first asked City officers whether the allowance provision for elected member conference attendance in 2014/15 was under-spent, and only upon being advised that this was the case (to a considerable degree, as I understand it) did I move the amendment. I would, of course, expect the Mayor to pay for any private aspects of any travel he undertakes, but in this case he has been invited by a reputable local government association to join a touring delegation that will visit 13 cities in 14 days, as guided by a significant piece of research & analysis. How on earth is that a junket – and is there really any justification for characterising the trip in that way? Have you suggested to the LGPA that the trip ought to be cancelled on that basis? Have you checked to see who else in the local government sector is attending?

    I think you do a great job of attending Council meetings and scrutinising Council decisions, Mark, but I think in this case you’ve got the wrong end of the stick. Criticising waste and improper expenditure and the absence of transparency in government is crucially important – but alleging improper conduct shouldn’t be done lightly. The decision in question was openly debated and recorded; and I would suggest it is not unreasonable or excessive by any sensible judgement … unless you believe any travel by any member of government in any circumstance is unreasonable. You suggest there was no value in the Mayor’s trip to Japan as part of a delegation organised by a WA govt MP to look at waste-to-energy, which seems to indicate that you’re completely unaware of the fact that W2E is very much part of the waste management conversation in WA at the moment, with Kwinana having recently entered into an agreement with Phoenix Energy, and other proposals in play. It’s essential that local govt leaders understand these kinds of operations – and it’s a directly relevant issue for us in Fremantle.

    By all means engage in robust questioning and fair/constructive criticism … but throwing around scattergun and baseless allegations that essentially allege misconduct or bad faith on the part of Council and Councillors is not only unfair but actually corrosive of local democracy and good government. My sense is that’s not what you’re about, because you have a genuine interest in accountability. But in this case, why wouldn’t you at least call me or send me an email with any doubts/questions that you might have – especially as you say you didn’t hear some aspects of the debate – before accusing me and other Councillors of acting improperly?

    Josh

    • Mark says:

      Josh welcome to Fremantle Reform, thanks for your comment.
      I don’t think I have accused anyone of anything, I updated my post I did not report what I thought I heard the night of the meeting hence why I waited to update after I had read the minutes.
      You will also find that I generally give links to the minutes and even give pages numbers to make it easier for the readers to find the info, so they can read for themselves, I don’t expect people to just believe what I say that’s why I give links to documents and encourage people to find out for themselves. My posts are full of links for further reading.
      As for the LGPA, if it’s not my rates I don’t really care, it may be interesting to see what new ideas come out of it, nothing I bet that you couldn’t do online in one form or another.
      In general I think governments waste far too much time on trips overseas, I can see some are necessary but generally with our digital age, when it comes to what u can learn, see experience online, are all the trips really necessary, it’s just a perk of the job
      The trip to japan I’m sure will be justified with 100’s of reasons, but could all that info have been obtained without the trip.
      Will COF run such an operation?
      Will COF fund the operation?
      Will COF design or build it? Of course not so what was crucial to get from the trip, considering the Japanese culture and lifestyle is completely different to ours, when comparing what goes in garbage that’s really evident, they produce a fraction of the rubbish we do.
      If you want to talk about rubbish disposal shouldn’t the discussion first be how to create less, before we decide to just burn it?
      End of the day COF will just send our trucks to this place or that. I have a side bar question for that which I will raise with you later.
      End of the day the state government will drive this issue one way or another. Brad has been reported recently saying that he thinks the state government should take care of the issue, personally I agree with that.
      I attended the meeting after Brad’s trip and learnt more from the proposals from contenders for the project, than anything Brad said, and received more detailed info on their plans after the evening by email after approaching the presenters.
      So do I believe this trip to Europe will return anything significant No I don’t, do I believe we can learn from Europe yes, you can learn from anyone.
      Though I would like to know what happen to the 3 bin trial Brad spoke about that night?
      I certainly didn’t accuse anyone of anything or acting improperly, I question the value in the trip to Europe.
      Even in council while the majority voted for the amended proposal, one councillor disagreed, in his judgement it wasn’t necessary, I agree with that line of thinking.
      So I’m not sure, what was a baseless allegation, all the info I got off the minutes even the word junket was used in the council debate. Worthwhile or not, its point of view I accept. If it’s the word governance u are questioning, I take that as was it in the best interest of the rate payers, as I stated, I don’t believe so, as a councillor also debated in the chambers? If you have a direct point that you feel is accusing someone of impropriety please point it out, I will justify it or remove it with an apology.
      Finally if you have not read it, have a quite look at the About under the header, sort of covers my general belief, thought as time progresses and I see and learn more that may need to be updated.
      More than happy to take you up on the call for questions or clarification.

      • Diana Ryan says:

        Mark, you gave Josh Wilson far too much time in your response.

        The situation is simple. The research was already done. It didn’t need a bunch of people creating more reasons for what will be a lot of unnecessary flights to streak through the same things covered in the book.

        This is how truly ridiculous “liveability”, “sustainability” has become.

        As for Fremantle’s aspirations to One Plant principles, the third clearly states:
        Sustainable Transport
        Encouraging low or zero carbon modes of transport to reduce emissions, and reducing the need to travel.

        The Mayor had choices and he chose to take up an opportunity and then he chose to ask the City to pay for half of it.

        Josh overrode a senior officer, who agreed with Pettitt that covering 50% of the cost was a judicious use of ratepayers’ funds, all things considered.

        Josh, your time and money would be better spent bringing in consultants and setting up a disability employment program and employment target – if you want tangible outcomes to your community, that is, and not just more and more flights.

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