Shellharbour mayor Borneo bound for $3500 healthy cities conference

Jetsetting: Most Shellharbour councillors agreed to fund the mayor's four-day trip to a conference in Kuching, which will cost about $3500.
Jetsetting: Most Shellharbour councillors agreed to fund the mayor's four-day trip to a conference in Kuching, which will cost about $3500.

Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba will be jetting off to the island of Borneo this October, to attend a conference on healthy cities.

The four-night trip – to Kuching, in Malaysia – will cost ratepayers about $3500, which includes conference registration, economy airfares, transfers and accommodation.

Cr Saliba gained support from a majority of councillors to attend the trip after lodging a mayoral minute at Tuesday night’s meeting, arguing that her attendance could give the city an edge at the global conference.

A biennial meeting of members of the Alliance for Healthy Cities, which is an international network of councils and other bodies aiming to protect the health of people living in cities.

“This council in November applied to become a member of Healthy Cities in our own right and part of that recommendation we carried unanimously is that we would send someone to their meeting that happens every two years,” she said.

“This was brought to my attention only recently, when I was asked who would we be sending to that conference – I’m our representative on healthy cities, and I believe this is important to our city on many levels.”

She said her attendance at the conference would give her the chance to spruik the bid by Healthy Cities Illawarra – an alliance of four councils – to host the 2020 global conference.

“This means that 600-plus delegates will come to the Illawarra, and while the main conference will be held in Wollongong to cater for that number of people, there’s a chance for us to host a visitation to our city, particularly to look at our five Green Star building and waste services,” she said.

Independent councillor Peter Moran voted against funding the trip, saying he was under the impression that mayoral minutes should not be used to seek expenses for overseas travel.

Cr Moran also asked whether a council staff member may be able to attend in Cr Saliba’s place, however she said she was best placed as she was the council’s representative on the alliance.

Councillors voted 6-1 to allow the trip to be funded.