Dubbo residents have slammed Dubbo Regional Council for sending ten representatives to the upcoming local government conference.
The LGNSW Annual Conference will be held in Sydney at the Hyatt Regency Hotel from December 4 to 6.
Dubbo is required to send four delegates, however all ten councillors will attend.
Councillor Greg Mohr, who has been elected as one of the voting delegates, said having all councillors attend would allow them to better themselves.
“People have to realise we’re a brand new council. The new councillors haven’t been exposed to things like this before,” Cr Mohr said.
“It’s not all about partying it up like everyone is saying, we’re voting on policies. Yes there’s socialising but it’s networking.”
A poll on the Daily Liberal website asked if all 10 councillors should attend the conference. Three out of four people who voted by Tuesday afternoon said no.
Vote in the poll to see the results.
The majority of those who commented on the Daily Liberal Facebook page were also against the idea.
“I'm sure the four chosen could return and let the other six know what they saw and heard. What a waste of money. Lets be realistic and put the money to something that's needed,” one person wrote.
Another said: “Is that why they stopped alcohol after meetings? To save for trips away? May take a while to make up the difference!”
However, some people were in support of all the councillors attending the conference.
“We want our councillors to be the best they can be, we want them to have the most, current, relevant, appropriate information available to them for us to move forward - they can't do this without proper training, guidance, mentoring and network connections,” one comment said.
The registration fee for the event, as well as the accommodation, travel and meal expenses for the councillors will all be covered by the ratepayers. However, Cr Mohr said the councillors were sacrificing their own time to make the trip.
“Most of us are taking time off work to go, including myself. We’re not actually getting paid to go there,” he said.
Councillor Stephen Lawrence also turned to Facebook to defend the council’s decision.
“This is training for new councillors. In my opinion this is not a legitimate basis to criticise the new council. Do we criticise public servants being sent to training or conferences? Do we really think councillors are interested in a junket to Sydney? If anyone on council wanted a holiday they would book a flight and a hotel and have one. We are going as a group to what will be a busy few days of work,” he said.
While there’ll be four delegates, one alternate and five observers attending the conference this year, Cr Mohr said he believed it would be a one-off. He said he didn’t believe every councillor would return again next year.