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Mayor plans 4 overseas trips to Korea, Japan and beyond

PAUL Antonio's passport is filling up with stamps, with the mayor set to embark on four ratepayer-funded trips overseas this year.

His adventures will start in Japan in March when he will lead a Toowoomba Regional Council delegation to meet government and business groups in Takatsuki.

While he's there he'll attend the famous Cherry Blossom Festival and tour Kyoto.

The Council of Mayors (SEQ), of which Cr Antonio is deputy chair, is planning a trip to Singapore in July as part of a "smart cities" fact-finding mission and Cr Antonio is widely tipped to take part.

Yesterday it was revealed he would lead a delegation to another of Toowoomba's sister cities - Paju in South Korea.

Cr Antonio is also likely to attend a Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise overseas trip this year.

Overseas delegations from Toowoomba Regional Council should not be called junkets, but rather are an important way to learn from other councils, Cr Mike Williams said yesterday as the council endorsed its latest overseas trip to South Korea.

He said, having visited three continents, it was the best way for the council to see how services and infrastructure were provided in other countries.

Mayor Paul Antonio will visit Japan and Korea and likely Singapore. The councillor is widely tipped to take part in a TSBE overseas trip this year. (Image digitally altered)
Mayor Paul Antonio will visit Japan and Korea and likely Singapore. The councillor is widely tipped to take part in a TSBE overseas trip this year. (Image digitally altered)

"It actually really annoys me that council gets beaten up for going and looking at the world," he said.

South Korean sister city Paju sends large delegations to Toowoomba yearly, which in turn visits every second year.

Cr Carol Taylor also argued in favour of the trip, saying to not reciprocate trips from Toowoomba's sister cities could be seen as a slur and disrespectful, particularly in Asia.

As well as visiting Paju, the delegation will attend the Asia Pacific Cities Summit in Daejeon.

Planning and development services general manager Stewart Somers said attending would be "very worthwhile" from an economic point of view.

The delegation will consist of Cr Antonio, two councillors, chief executive officer Brian Pidgeon and two council officers.

An interpreter will also attend with all expenses paid for by the council.

Council estimates the cost for each delegate will be about $3100.

Is the mayor justified in taking four overseas trips this year?

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This year marks the 15th anniversary of Paju's relationships with Toowoomba.

The council is hoping the visit will "acknowledge the anniversary and the importance of the relationship" at one of the official events.

During debate yesterday the councillors noted The Chronicle's reporting on the planned Japanese delegation, with Cr Taylor saying there was a lack of understanding in the press about what delegations could achieve.

Cr Megan O'Hara Sullivan questioned why the council needed to send three councillors, calling it "quite excessive".

Cr Antonio said Cr Chris Tait had helped facilitate a major trade deal on a recent trip to Korea.

"That is something that endures to this day and is beneficial to this region."

Cr Antonio raised the issue of the upcoming Singapore trip and said council should consider "making sure someone is represented on that trip".

The South Korea trip was endorsed by the councillors unanimously.

Topics:  editors picks mayor paul antonio toowoomba toowoomba regional council


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