CVC severs sister city links

By SALLY GORDON

sally.gordon@dailyexaminer.com.au

CLARENCE Valley Council intends to sever ties with its sister cities in Japan and Vanuatu.

Council has decided to withdraw from formal sister city arrangements with the Japanese city of Izunokuni and Port Vila in Vanuatu.

Council instead will continue a 'goodwill relationship on an informal or activity basis' with the two cities.

Councillor Doug Mackenzie said a code of conduct had been adopted to ensure councillors and their staff did not travel to sister cities at the expense of ratepayers.

The Yamba councillor said the termination of international ties was in effect a cost cutting measure for the new council.

"We have to get our priorities straight and look inwards for a period of time," he said. "The question was there to be asked: 'should council be the facilitator for these things or should other cultural or business groups be the driving force while we take a back seat?'."

Cr Mackenzie said moves to can ratepayer-funded overseas trips would send a message to the community that their 'money was being spent as wisely as possible'.

In the future, council's involvement in international activities will be managed on a merit basis under advice of the relevant directorate.

When Izunokuni is informed of council's decision, a letter also will be issued to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs detailing the Valley council's opposition to commercial whaling.

Councillors want the correspondence to highlight the importance of whale watching in the Clarence Coast's economy.

The motion, put forward by Cr Mackenzie, gained strong support from his council colleagues.

"This is very much inside our jurisdiction ... all you have to do is stand on Diggers Camp Headland to watch the whales go past," Cr Chris Gulaptis said.

"I think it's important we recognise the significance of whale watching to our natural environment and our economy."

Local whale watching charter operations on the Clarence Coast include Wooli's Deepsea Tours and Charon Fishing Charters also based in Wooli.



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