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$7000 To Visit Korea While Students Miss Out!

Councillors Spend $7000 To Visit Korea While Students Miss Out!


Independent Citizens Candidate Mr. Mark Kunnen today called upon Councillors Carole Anderton and Lesley Keast to call off their Council trip to a parade and folk festival in Korea after Aranui High School’s cultural group pulled out.

“Spending nearly $7000.00 to send two Councillors overseas to a cultural festival and celebration in Korea, while the cultural performers miss out and have to remain behind is insane” said Mr Kunnen.

“Its regrettable that Councillors feel they are best placed to represent the City in a cultural performance rather than assisting accomplished cultural performers to attend” said Mr. Kunnen. “Councillors Carole Anderton and Lesley Keast will each have their airfares of $1539.00 paid, around $200.00 per day of on ground costs and receive a $185.00 daily meeting fee for attending a cultural festival while the Aranui High School Cultural group misses out”

Mr. Kunnen was responding to news that the Aranui High School cultural group had to pull out of attending the 2001 Hansung Paekje Festival in Songpa-Gu, Korea. The Aranui school students could not afford the significant financial cost and time to attend the Korea Festival and a national speech contest. It is also the Christchurch City Council travel policy that only one Councillor is sent to any international event unless there are special circumstances.

“What’s the special circumstances that require these two Councillors to attend this cultural festival and celebration in Songpa-Gu Korea in September?” asked Mr. Kunnen.
“If the circumstances were so special, why could these Councillors not share some of available funding with the school students and help them raise funds at the School’s Hangi and Whanau days” said Mr Kunnen.

“Attending festivals and conferences is not the right of any Councillor. They should only be funded by ratepayers if there is a very real and direct benefit for the Council and the City as a whole. It appears that some Councillors consider overseas travel a perk of office” said Mr. Kunnen.

“Since August 1998 Councillors have spent more that $42,000.00 attending various overseas conferences and international events.” said Mr. Kunnen “On top of that for each day a Councillor is away traveling at the ratepayers expense they receive a daily meeting fee of $185.00.”

“Councillors regularly claim that attending festivals and conferences leads to business and trade for the City” said Mr. Kunnen. “If there was any link, perceived or otherwise local export businesses would be lining up to go overseas with Councillors. The fact they are not, clearly demonstrates that these experienced and skilled exporters see little if any benefit from Councillors attending conferences and festivals overseas.”

“Each year the Council provides millions to the Canterbury Development Corporation and various other organisations to undertake trade, business and regional employment initiatives for the City. Such groups rather than individual Councillors are best placed to undertake any trade promotions” said Mr. Kunnen.
“What is even more galling for the ratepayer is that on almost every trip, Councillors had staff members travel with them, once these airfares and costs are factored into the Councillors travel expenses the total cost would be double those officially reported.”
For further information or comment please call
Mark Kunnen Mobile 025 33 09 09 [Residence 03 358 4186 - Work 03 366 9854]


Additional Background Information

Extracts from the Christchurch City Council Agenda of Thursday 26th July 2001

2001 HANSUNG PAEKJE FESTIVAL
The Hansung Paekje Festival to be held from 17 – 23 September, is the most important cultural event in Songpa-Gu. Songpa-Gu was the ancient capital of Korea for around 500 years during the year Hansung Paekje era 2000 years ago and the festival is held in celebration of this. On Peace People’s Day an Overseas Sister City Parade and International Folk Festival is held to celebrate the city’s multicultural links. Officials from each of Songpa-Gu’s Sister Cities are brought together to join in the festivities.

It is proposed that this years delegation of Deputy Mayor Lesley Keast and Councillor Carole Anderton, Mr. Sugden (Chairman of the Sister City Committee) and the Aranui High School Cultural Group will depart Christchurch 17 September and return on 25 September.

TRAVEL EXPENSES
Most of the on-ground costs for the Christchurch City representatives will be met by Songpa-Gu City Hall, including costs for 12 of the Aranui High School Cultural Group. The students will pay their airfares and remaining on-ground costs. The Christchurch - Songpa-Gu Sister City Committee will meet the airfare and remaining on-ground costs for Clyde Sugden.

The costs for air travel and remaining on-ground expenses for the Deputy Mayor and Councillor Anderton will be met from the Councillors Travel Budget. In line with the Councillors’ Overseas Policy air travel will be by way of economy class. Deputy Mayor Keast and Councillor Anderton will travel by Singapore Air.

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