No councillors want to be part of overseas trips

TOOWOOMBA Regional Council has revealed no councillors want to be part of planned trips to Asia and New Zealand this year, potentially putting the visits in jeopardy.

Mayor Paul Antonio said two councillors were due to travel with himself and chief executive officer Brian Pidgeon on three different delegations in September and November.

But Cr Antonio said the council would likely delay the visit to Whanganui, Toowoomba's sister city in New Zealand, partially because no councillors nominated to join the trip.

"The New Zealand trip is most likely not happening - we'll probably put it off a year," he said.

Six months ago, several councillors put their hands up to join the Mayor on a $34,000 delegation to Japan in March, which was criticised by some ratepayers at the time.

The issue was further complicated by the cancellation of the Access Hong Kong trip with Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise, which meant the council had to re-arrange its booking schedule.

But Cr Antonio vowed to honour the council's commitment to its sister city Paju in South Korea and the Asia-Pacific Summit in Daejeon, as well as a memorandum of under- standing the council has with Shaoxing City in China to build business relationships.

But he admitted councillors expressed little enthusiasm to join him.

"Nobody has put their hand up at this stage to accompany me to Korea, due to a variety of reasons I suppose," he said.

"Whilst we're over there (in South Korea), we're going to try to revisit the MOU we have signed with the city in China.

"It's also one of the more entrepreneurial in China, (but) at this point in time, I'm the only councillor going.

"I can't tell you why they wouldn't want to go."

Cr Antonio said mayors and councillors were essential to business negotiations in communist China, and added the trips held substantial benefits for Toowoomba.

"Participation of the mayor and councillors in exchange visits and hosting incoming groups supports the continuation of relation- ships that benefit the regional economy and opens doors to explore further commercial opportunities for the region," he said.

"Myself as Mayor, and the CEO will still visit Yuecheng District, Paju, in Korea and attend the Asia Pacific Summit in Daejeon in September.

"I'm talking not only about exporting product, but also the potential to develop tourism."

Toowoomba has had a sister-city relationship with Paju since 2002, which is located just south of the de-militarisation zone separating North and South Korea.