Receipts show cost of bureaucrats and their events
BOOZING officers and executives from a southside council have racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars on alcohol and fine dining while on work trips at luxury beachside resorts.
In the past four-year term, officers and executives from Logan City Council used council credit cards to buy booze from liquor outlet Dan Murphy's, and to dine out at some of the state's swankiest restaurants for work-related events.
Officers and executives were treated to luxury hotel packages at Kingscliff, Tweed Heads, Mooloolaba Beach and Binna Burra as part of team morale-building exercises.
Rooms for up to 32 officers, staff and family members were booked at resorts including Peppers at Kingscliff, Mantra Twin Towns at Coolangatta and Mantra Mooloolaba.
The staff conferences, designed to build teams within the council's bureaucratic ranks, included sumptuous all-you-can eat buffets and poolside pre-dinner drinks.
At a three-day leadership team building session at Mantra Twin Towns in November 2017, officers racked up $1267 on "refreshments" at Baskk at Kirra, billed as "boho heaven" offering a huge, open bar where staff mix cocktails.
The accommodation for 28 rooms, hire of the conference centre and equipment and breakfast is believed to have cost more than $46,000.
On top of that, the council hired a "facilitator", Pragmatic Thinking, for $30,000 to give motivational speeches and get attendees to carry out tasks including solving jigsaw puzzles.
During the same conference, executives also dined at Coolangatta Restaurant Bin 72, where they ended the night with a $1008 bill.
There was also another bill from that restaurant for $945.
A high-ranking program leader booked the swanky restaurants away from the Mantra resort and inquired about also booking a wine and cheese session which was to be hosted by a high-ranked officer.
In an email, the officer told his superior staff had to head off-site to local restaurants each night as there was "no room at the inn" for dinner.
"What this also means is that we are 'in a pickle' about a space at Mantra for a Wine and Cheese appreciation session," the officer said.
"I have booked a restaurant - Bin72 for dinner on Thursday evening, which seems to have a good wine list and I expect would be able to help out with cheese also - so that may be a suitable alternative."
The superior officer asked for the wine list to "see if we can make it work without costing us a fortune".
The wine list included drinks by the glass of vodka, gin, rum starting at $7.50 up to a 2006 bottle of dom perignon at $360.
After seeing the wine list, the superior officer canned the wine appreciation session.
"It is my view that a wine appreciation component would become problematic and expensive," he said in an email.
But officers did not miss out on their epicurean education as the next year in 2018, when 33 rooms were booked for staff at the Mantra Mooloolaba, a wine and cheese appreciation session was again offered on the menu.
The three-day professional development session at Mooloolaba cost a minimum $18,398 in accommodation with a further $30,140 added to the bill for hiring a "motivational facilitator".
The officer retreat in October 2018 followed an email from the council's human resources department saying there had been "murmurings" about the lack of strategic progress across the organisation.
The motivational facilitator Performance Frontiers got the officers to play "getting to know you" and another fun game "Missed it by that much".
At that event, officers treated themselves to a night out for dinner at Char, where the bill for 31 came to $1813.85.
Ratepayers also footed a further bill for $896, which included a single line item for $243, at another Sunshine Coast restaurant Lemon and Thyme in the same week.
Logan Ratepayer Association president Rod Shaw called for the practice to stop.
He said it had been part of the culture built over the past 10 years where officers went on annual all-expenses paid work trips at a cost to the ratepayer of more than $300,000.
"Each year these people have visited five-star resorts outside Logan with individual executive rooms and copious amounts of food and alcohol," he said.
"They are engaging special speakers at great cost to council to motivate this mob."