Working weekend cost defended

Greater Dandenong Council has defended a $6000-plus weekend workshop. 172145_04

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A weekend strategic workshop for City of Greater Dandenong councillors and executives at a Mornington Peninsula resort has been partly justified by bushfires several hundred kilometres away.

The $6425 event at Moonah Links on 12-13 March had been criticised, especially given the Covid-struck economy.

At a council meeting on 22 March, deputy mayor Sophie Tan said the council opted to support a regional or rural business effected by “the tragic bushfires last year” and Covid-19.

The Gippsland fireground starting near Bairnsdale is at least 300 kilometres drive from the resort in Fingal.

Greater Dandenong had previously staged the workshops locally at Greater Dandenong reserves and Springvale Town Hall supper room, Cr Tan said.

She thanked the “CEO, all the directors and councillors who contributed their time away from their families and friends” for a “productive” workshop.

Mayor Angela Long said the workshop discussed matters including the council’s long-term financial plan, the future masterplan for Mills Reserve and the new Dandenong Oasis aquatic centre, Dandenong Community Hub and the Dandenong South industrial two zone.

“No formal decisions were made at the workshop,” Cr Long said.

“Council reports on these various matters will come to future Council meetings for decisions.

“All councillors and members of the Executive Management Team attended the workshop.”

Cr Rhonda Garad asked whether the council could hold future workshops on-site for no cost.

She said it was a “time of great hardship” and “not a normal time”.

“Exceptional circumstances should perhaps generate altered behaviour.”

Chief executive John Bennie said the council discussed the workshop’s location in December. It opted for a “remote location” for a “number of reasons”.

In the past, it had opted for locations in Greater Dandenong or outside the council boundaries

Mr Bennie said community concern was “not disregarded or ignored”.