GAWLER Mayor Karen Redman has defended spending $17,000 of ratepayer funds to bankroll interstate and overseas travel, saying the two trips have created good outcomes for the local community.
Last week, The Bunyip reported Mrs Redman and Gawler chief executive Henry Inat spent $10,000 of ratepayer money to attend the annual Local Government conference in Canberra recently.
It comes after the pair used $7000 of ratepayer funds to make a business trip to China in 2016, in which Mrs Redman argued it was used to promote Gawler.
She said the results of the overseas trip are now being realised through an increase in Chinese tourists travelling to Gawler as day visitors, and two local businesses linking with China’s markets through exports.
“A modern council has a responsibility to drive investment and create jobs as and where it can, either directly working with industry or indirectly through lobbying for and receiving grants for projects which create local/regional jobs,” she said.
“Achieving such outcomes cannot just happen sitting behind a desk.
“(It is) critical (the mayor and CEO) get out there and fly the Gawler flag to generate awareness and interest in investment and job creation.
“The costs of both the China and Canberra visits are acknowledged, however, it has been money well spent, given the results achieved.”
Mrs Redman said she and Mr Inat have now attended the Canberra conference several times in recent years, with significant investment achieved, and hopes of more in the future.
“Both the CEO and I work hard for our community at these visits, with $5.6 million received after our first visit (to Canberra), which is an amazing outcome for Gawler,” she said.
“Our success in grant funding (has been demonstrated) through our assertive approach to meetings and lobbying politicians.
“Council currently has 10 grant funding applications, pending decisions with both Federal and State Governments, (with) the total value of these grants equating to $53,393,246.”
Moving forward, Mrs Redman said she hopes there are further opportunities to develop more intercultural relationships that will create more good outcomes for the community.
“I was approached by the Mayor of Penglai, who visited Gawler and the region, (to visit Penglai in China),” she said.
“Unfortunately, due to the scrutiny of such a visit I was not able to take up the opportunity of the return invitation I received.
“This was a difficult decision to make and was a direct result of this scrutiny. “I look forward to the time when Gawler can develop such relationships that will only enhance our success as a community.”