Helen Leach says visit to China a waste

City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Barry Lyons.
City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Barry Lyons.

COUNCILLOR Helen Leach has questioned the value of City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Barry Lyons' trip to China.

Cr Leach said the trip was unnecessary and the council needed to cut back on expenses.

"A lot of people have indicated its money not well spent," she said.

"I think there's a perception it was bad timing with the rates coming out.

"I don't think it's money well spent."

Cr Leach was referring to a recent analysis revealing council rates had doubled in the past decade.

But Cr Lyons defended the five-day visit, saying it was beneficial and well worth the $7500 cost.

"If we want the city to grow we need to have relations outside the country," Cr Lyons said.

"I'm very confident that we'll get some trade out of this."

The trip consisted of Cr Lyons, City of Greater Bendigo chief executive Craig Niemann and an interpreter visiting Haimen, a city of one million people in Jiangsu Province.

The trio left last Sunday and returned on Friday.

Cr Lyons said the aim of the visit was to promote cultural and commercial ties and foster a sister-city relationship with Haimen.

Cr Lyons and Mr Niemann met with Haimen Mayor Yang Caoming and visited Bendigo South East College students completing an exchange at Haimen Dongzhou Middle School.

They also completed tours of the city's textile manufacturers.

"All in all it was a pretty successful trip - hopefully we'll get a visit from them in Easter next year," Cr Lyons said.

Cr Lyons said Bendigo industries that could benefit from strengthened Chinese relations included education, tourism and wine.

"There's lots of things they don't have there that they could purchase here," he said.

Cr Lyons said the trio flew economy class on Air China and were provided with complimentary accommodation by their Chinese hosts.

Cr Rod Fyffe said the main purpose of the visit was to further "understanding".

"You can’t put a dollar value on that," he said.

"To learn more about Chinese people, to have school exchanges, to have cultural exchanges, to have medical exchanges.

“There’s a whole raft of things we can build on.”


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