Three councillors from Toowoomba are heading to Japan, with ratepayers footing the bill.
Three councillors from Toowoomba are heading to Japan, with ratepayers footing the bill.

Pick me Paul: Ratepayers dish out for Japan junket

TOOWOOMBA Regional Councillors are falling over themselves to nab a spot on the sushi train to Takatsuki in Japan.

As part of the plum trip, two councillors and the mayor will live it up at the famous Cherry Blossom Festival and tour Kyoto - made famous for geisha and female entertainers.

The councillors will leave Toowoomba for Japan on March 29, attending a festival in Takatsuki over three days before heading to business meetings in Kyoto and Osaka.

As Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio introduced a motion to authorise the trip on Tuesday, councillors started jostling for the two spots.

Cr Antonio looked at Cr James O'Shea and said his hand was already "half way up".

Is it fair councillors are using ratepayer money to travel to Japan?

This poll ended on 24 March 2017.

Current Results





This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Such was the appetite among councillors to join a ratepayer-funded trip to Japan that Mayor Paul Antonio was forced to remind them that "we're not dealing with who goes at this stage".

During a council meeting on Tuesday Cr Anne Glasheen asked the mayor to nominate which councillors would go on the junket, saying there had been two who had not been on any overseas trips.

"I'm happy to put their names on there (the motion)," she said.

Cr Antonio said he had called for expressions of interest from the councillors.

Takatsuki Sister City. Photo Contributed
Takatsuki Sister City. Photo Contributed Contributed

Cr Carol Taylor reminded him that while she had been to Japan previously, she paid for her own fare.

The ratepayer-funded trip is part of the Toowoomba council's sister city agreement with Takatsuki and was recommended by the International Relations Working Group.

Ratepayers will be slugged $3000 for each delegate, adding up to a total of at least $18,000.

Mrs Tomoko Sneath will be engaged as an interpreter and provide cultural advice.

The relationship was established in 1991 and is marked by reciprocal visits by council officials on an alternate annual basis.

Council's last delegation was in November 2015.

As part of the visit, the delegation will undertake courtesy visits and attend school meetings.

The delegation will also travel to Ena City which has a relationship with Oakey before returning to Toowoomba on April 6.

The councillors voted unanimously to approve the delegation, which will also include three council officers as authorised by the council's chief executive officer Brian Pidgeon.

The relationship between the cities blossomed after Takatsuki helped to develop the Toowoomba Japanese Gardens.

It was rocked last year after accusations by teachers involved in an English teaching program that Toowoomba teachers had been overcharged and forced to live in dilapidated apartments.

Students and sporting teams from the Japanese city periodically visit Toowoomba.