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Expect more ‘Monaco’ trips as Mayor refuses to get tough

Expect more ‘Monaco’ trips as Mayor refuses to get tough
"Auckland Mayor Len Brown has promised ratepayers greater financial prudence since I revealed six months ago that Auckland Council spent over $10.5m on travel in its first two years. However when push comes to shove the Mayor is refusing to send that same message to the Council-Controlled Organisations,” says Auckland Councillor for Orakei Cameron Brewer.
“Keeping in mind Mr Brown's promise of putting more focus on budgetary issues, most people will be disappointed to learn that 18 people were funded to be in San Francisco for the America's Cup and two flew business-class to the Monaco Boat Show."
Mr Brewer says the Mayor has the perfect opportunity to really put the squeeze on the CCOs including the likes of ATEED by demanding greater financial prudence in his annual letters of expectation for 2014/15 which were debated at last week’s CCO Governance and Monitoring Committee meeting.
“I suggested just last week that these letters needed to be stronger and greater financial prudence and accountability should be written into our expectations for ATEED but I was told that it would limit their ability to do their job and only ‘curb their creativity’. Sadly the public needs to get used to fact that under this Mayor trips to the likes of Monaco are not only sanctioned but encouraged.”
"I think Auckland definitely needed a presence in San Francisco, but I don't think we needed to fund so many at the cost of $220,114. The good thing is ATEED was highly transparent with its internal reporting before and after the trip and by all accounts made a decent splash and secured some worthwhile international connections in San Francisco.
"The return on investment from having council staff attend the Monaco Boat Show for $57,369 however seems a little harder to ascertain. Disappointingly they have advised that no reports have been produced relating to the trip and have only said that they're now in vague discussions with a few super yachts owners hoping to convince them to visit Auckland. Eyebrows will also raise as to whether business-class flights to Monaco, via Dubai, were appropriate given this is funded by the poor old Auckland suburban ratepayer.
"With the Monaco Boat Show, you really have to question the added benefit of having ATEED there, given the New Zealand Marine Industry Association, Tourism New Zealand, and NZTE were all there as well. It seems like complete overkill to me."
Mr Brewer says he’s not necessarily against overseas travel and appreciates ATEED has a job to do and some ambitious targets to meet.
“I’m just concerned that the public has been promised greater financial prudence and all this shows is that nothing has actually changed. All council travel needs to be prudent, focused on delivering outcomes, and every dollar accountable to the Auckland ratepayer. It’s not an unrealistic expectation,” says Cameron Brewer.


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