20 Mar 2013

Super city's $10 million travel spend defended

8:00 pm on 20 March 2013

Auckland Council's chief executive says more than $10 million in travel costs is money well spent.

A councillor, Cameron Brewer, says it's disappointing that ratepayers are expected to fund expensive trips when cuts to core services are expected in the next budget.

But chief executive Doug McKay says the travel spend is an excellent return on investment for ratepayers. He says the council has a strict travel policy, and all trips must be business-related, necessary and approved.

Figures obtained by Mr Brewer under the Official Information Act show total travel costs of $10,570,315 during the first two years of the super city. That includes $6,113,462 spent by the council itself and $1,347,039 by Auckland Transport.

Mr Brewer says travel funded in part or whole by ratepayers includes trips to Finland, Spain, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

He says staff need to make better use of the internet and Skype instead of travelling overseas.

But another councillor, Arthur Anae, who went on a council-paid overseas trip last year, says using the internet is not the same as being there.

Mr Anae says ratepayers should think of travel as an investment.