Council: why we must fly overseas

Adrew Mathieson
Geelong councillors have defended their overseas travel after approving new trips to China and Japan.
The councillors this week voted to send Mayor Peter McMullin, Cr John Mitchell and a council official to a sponsor day with Japanese baseball team Chiba Lotte Marines on September 24.
Cr McMullin will later fly to China with a City Hall official for a nine-day trip.
Tourism and major events portfolio-holder Cr Bruce Harwood expected council to face criticism for the Japan trip but believed it would help offset a downturn in Geelong tourism.
Cr Harwood believed Geel-ong would be “flavour of the month” in the “hit and run mission”.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring back of what was lost.”
Cr Mitchell said he would not take the trip for granted.
“Going for four days is going to be a tough gig,” he said.
“It’s not a holiday, it’s not a junket,” he said.
Cr Shane Dowling, who visited Japan to lure the Asian baseball champions for pre-season training in Geelong, said council representatives had to attend to “walk the talk”.
The City estimated the Chiba Lotte Marines’ visit was worth about $3 million a year.
But Cr Barbara Abley was uncomfortable with the amount of City officials attending.
“I am not sure that two can’t send the same message,” Cr Abley said.
Cr Stretch Kontelj questioned why Baseball Geelong would not be represented.
Cr McMullin will lead the City delegation to China from October 18 to 27 for a business seminar.