Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Mayor's travel plans

Amid council cuts to services, Len Brown has a travel-packed agenda.

Brown also has plans to visit Taiwan, LA and Brisbane. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Brown also has plans to visit Taiwan, LA and Brisbane. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has set himself a globe-trotting agenda for the coming year with planned visits to Taiwan, Japan, China, the United States and Australia.

The mayor's proposed "outbound programme" includes a one-week trip to Taiwan, Japan and China accompanied by a delegation to "leverage specific opportunities" and to sign an agreement with the mayors of Guangzhou and Los Angeles.

Brown also plans to attend the World Cities Mayors Forum in New York, a summit in Los Angeles, and potentially make trade missions to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

He has also proposed attending the Asia Pacific Cities Summit and Mayors Forum in Brisbane to investigate an Auckland bid to host the summit.

The proposed programme was presented before the release of Auckland Council's first draft of its budget this week, which includes big rate rises and spending cuts.

Before the draft budget's release, a spokesman for Brown said there were no formal plans at this stage and there were only three trips - fewer than in the mayor's first term.

"Promoting Auckland internationally as a visitor destination and a great place to invest in and do business with is an important part of the mayor's role in supporting economic growth and creating jobs in Auckland," he said.

Councillor Cameron Brewer, who previously revealed $10.5 million was spent on travel in the first two years of the Super City, said he did not begrudge the mayor leading a few business delegations, "as long as they open doors and deliver results".

"However, I do think we really need to narrow down the number of sister cities and overseas civic relationships we have.

"We inherited 31 formal relationships in 2010 and are still maintaining 19 relationships. It's far too many.

"I'm not so worried about the odd trade mission. I'm more worried about the $5m plus of ratepayers' money the council spends on travel every year, with staff flying to seemingly every farflung country in the world over the past four years."

"A spokesman for the mayor's office says the proposed trips have been drawn up by council staff and not the mayor or his office."

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