Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Trio's trip to Rio cost $13,000

Cameron Brewer. Photo / Greg Bowker
Cameron Brewer. Photo / Greg Bowker

A three-man Auckland Council delegation to an environment meeting in Rio de Janiero cost ratepayers $13,000 - a sum one councillor has slammed following rates increases across the city.

Cameron Brewer said yesterday that he was outraged to learn about the 12-day trip to Brazil by councillor Wayne Walker and managers Paul Chambers and Robert Perry.

The sum was spent on hotels and flights.

"Flying people to Rio is a bad look when in the same month most councillors voted to put rates up by over 10 per cent for 133,000 of Auckland's households."

Mr Brewer said the trip to the Rio + 20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June and the 36-strong delegation to the Local Government New Zealand Conference in Queenstown, which cost $93,000, should prompt a review of the council's travel policy, particularly for staff.

Mr Brewer said the Queenstown conference was a huge waste of ratepayers' money and it would be interesting to see what benefits the Rio trip gave to the average suburban ratepayer.

However, Mayor Len Brown said it was appropriate that Mr Walker, as chairman of the environment and sustainability forum, and the senior managers be exposed to the latest international thinking on responding to climate change.

He said the council policy on international trips was signed off by councillors and passed without dissent.

"This trip was within those rules so it seems people might just be playing petty politics over the issue."

Mr Walker said: "Last year, I went to Rio on a trip paid for by the Brazilians so consequently I wasn't going to Rio again for any type of junket."

The two council officers' trips were authorised by chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley and council finance officer Kevin Ramsay after considering a business case proposal from Mr Chambers.

- NZ Herald

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