A council that’s on the move


MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is continuing to look far and wide for innovation and inspiration with two councillors and its top executive preparing to pack their bags for overseas and interstate travel.

In November, CEO Carl Cowie and Cr Simon Brooks propose being in Germany for an international climate change conference and Cr Julie Edge wants to be in Brisbane for a forum on disasters.

If approved by councillors at last night’s meeting (Tuesday 10 November), before arriving in Bonn for the United Nations’ COP23 conference, Mr Cowie will have already been to Sweden and plans to later head south for another conference in Malta.

Closer to home, Cr Edge has sought permission to attend the Fire, Cyclone and Flood Disaster Management and Recovery Forum in Brisbane from 29 November to 1 December.

The total cost of the three journeys is about $25,500.

This amount may rise as a report to councillors by Mr Cowie’s executive assistant Bianca Hubble states that the “CEO, potentially with other representatives” of the shire will meet and speak with people “who are all working towards the same goals at the shire”.

The shire’s communications and media manager Mark Kestigian said he was unable to provide names or details of the shire representatives who may be going overseas with Mr Cowie until after tonight’s council meeting.

If the conference attendances are approved, the councillors’ costs – $8000 for Cr Brooks and $3000 Cr Edge – will be deducted from their $16,000 a four-year term training, conferences and seminars allowance. Mr Cowie’s expenses ($14,500) will be the first to come out of his $30,000 study tour allowance approved by council in September 2016.

In February, the mayor Cr Bev Colomb said the study tour allowance was “an offer that may or may not be taken up by the CEO” (“CEO study deal revealed” The News 27/2/17).

This latest round of overseas and interstate travel follows the September study tour to China by Cr Hugh Fraser, chief operating officer Niall McDonagh and waste services team leader Daniel Hinson.

The trio investigated technologies being used in China to generate electricity from rubbish to lessen the amount going to landfill is part of the shire’s bid to attain carbon neutrality by 2020.

It cost about $7000 to send Cr Fraser, Mr McDonagh and Mr Hinson to China for seven days. Cr Fraser’s $2500 share of the cost was the first deduction this term from his $16,000 conferences, training and seminars account.

The climate change conference being attended by Cr Brooks and Mr Cowie is the 23rd in a series being held by the United Nations.

Cr Fraser and the then mayor Cr Graham Pittock, at a cost of about $7000 each, attended the 2015 conference in Paris. Renewable resources team leader Jessica Wingad also attended the Paris conference.

While it appears Cr Brooks intends to spend 6-17 November at the Bonn COP23 conference, Mr Cowie’s itinerary sees him in Stockholm, Sweden for two days from 6 November.

While in Sweden Mr Cowie has “proposed” meetings with Stockholm County Council “and site visits looking at renewable energy and what the city is doing around carbon neutrality”.

After the Bonn conference, which ends 17 November, he heads to Valletta, the capital of the Mediterranean island of Malta. (Described in tourist brochures as a piece of living history, Valletta was founded 1565 as a refuge for soldiers returning from the Crusades).

Mr Cowie’s reason for being in the city is to attend the 21-24 November Commonwealth Local Government Conference titled “Fit for the future: resources and capacity for effective local government”.

While at the disaster forum in Brisbane Cr Edge, a member of Victoria Police, will be able to attend “keynote sessions and workshops [that] will provide insights from many regional case studies of effective implementation of recovery and emergency communications during and after disasters”, according to a report from governance manager Joe Spiteri.

Cr Brooks and Mr Cowie will miss a council meeting on Wednesday 8 November, which, according to Mr Spiteri is needed “to accommodate the large number of expected items to be determined by council”.

Mr Cowie will also miss the annual meeting on 14 November, although Cr Brooks will be back in time for that meeting which, as well as electing a mayor and deputy mayor for the coming year, includes a civic reception.

Cr Edge’s Brisbane conference runs 29 November to 1 December, which means she will be back in time for the planning services committee meeting on Monday 4 December.

First published in the Mornington News – 10 October 2017


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