Sister city visit gets green light

Mayor Barry Lyons

Mayor Barry Lyons

A delegation from the City of Greater Bendigo will visit China next month to investigate forming a sister city relationship with the city of Haimen in Jiangsu Province.

The visit will cost $7500.

Mayor Barry Lyons, who will join the delegation along with chief executive Craig Niemann and an interpreter, said a relationship could deliver tangible benefits for the greater Bendigo region.

“With a population of more than one million people and situated in one of the wealthiest provinces in China, Haimen presents the greater Bendigo with various economic development opportunities,” Cr Lyons said.

However, he cautioned that the council had learnt from the failings of an earlier sister city relationship with the Chinese city of Tianshui and was now determined to undertake a thorough investigation before proceeding with the relationship with Haimen.

Councillors this week approved the visit at the ordinary meeting.

In approving the motion, Cr Rod Fyffe said it was no junket but Cr Helen Leach argued it was. 

"I question what what ratepayers are getting out of it," she said. 

"I think two sister city relationships are enough and ... we should be cutting back on our spending instead of going ahead with this."

Cr Mark Weragoda said sister cities were very important and built strong economic and cultural links. 

Cr Peter Cox also supported the motion, saying the small cost of the visit would be worthwhile in the long run. 

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