Stirling councillor to attend Spain conferences at cost of $12,000 to ratepayers

Councillor Joe Ferrante.
Councillor Joe Ferrante.

A STIRLING councillor will attend a two conferences in Spain costing ratepayers an estimated $12,209, councillors decided last week.

Cr Joe Ferrante will attend the conferences from September 18 – 22 on energy and sustainability and urban regeneration in Seville.

This comes after Mayor Giovanni Italiano and came under fire from ratepayers for attendance at a conference in Spain in April because his airfare was $7000 more than councillor Andrew Guilfoyle who also attended.

Ratepayer Jack Garber (who is running for the Osborne Ward seat in the local elections) told council during public question time, the conference book was available for sale online for under $500.

“This book is available online, why not ask the councillor to write a book report?” he said.

Cr Ferrante did not attend the meeting.

Cr Elizabeth Re said approving the conference attendance was “not a good look for the City” because councillors had already attended international conferences this year.

The council report said the conferences would provide Cr Ferrante with a valuable opportunity to gain knowledge on larger scale cities with an approach to sustainability and energy creation.

“…attendance to the two conferences enables consolidation of the cost, effectively offering a better value with regards to the cost of travel,” the report said.

A City of Stirling spokeswoman said each councillor received a $17,800 conference allowance per two year term but the Mayor received a total of $35,700.

“The Mayor is expected to travel much more than councillors due to the position being the figure head for the City and representing the City at various events, industry conferences, awards presentations, lobbying for government funding,” the spokeswoman said.

A City spokeswoman said under the Elected Members’ Conferences and Training Development Policy, councillors were permitted to attend interstate and international events.

In 2016, no councillors travelled to overseas conferences, in 2015 two overseas trips were taken and in 2014 there were six international trips; including the USA, Scotland, Italy and the UK.