By CASEY NEILL
A trip to China is a waste of ratepayers’ money say three Greater Dandenong councillors who have also criticised the sister city relationship.
But the trip to Xuzhou will go ahead from 15 to 18 July after six councillors voted in its favour at Monday night’s council meeting.
During the visit Mayor Angela Long and engineering services director Bruce Rendall will seek capital and private investment in Greater Dandenong and stronger ties between the cities’ education and medical sectors, and have discussions about the Asian Century.
In recent years Xuzhou has become industrialised and is now an important manufacturing centre within the Jiangsu Province.
But Cr Maria Sampey said the council should reassess the whole sister city relationship, which spans 18 years.
“Nothing viable is coming out of it,” she said.
“It’s really a waste.”
Cr Peter Brown said Cr Long was not the best person to send, given the trip’s objectives.
“I don’t think she has the qualifications nor the experience to deliver the outcomes this agenda is seeking,” he said.
“The staffing wouldn’t deliver the best result.”
Cr Sean O’Reilly said it could be beneficial to go to China but warned “it is not clear to me the benefit of going back to the same place year after year”.
“It is not apparent to me how this relationship has borne fruit.”
But Cr John Kelly said the city had benefited from the relationship.
“I know a couple of businesses in Dandenong South that have made a connection with our sister city and China,” he said.
He said the benefits weren’t “up-front or in your face” and relationships were built over time.