24 Mar 2010

Wellington mayor gets approval for $10,000 China trip

10:09 pm on 24 March 2010

Wellington's mayor has been given the nod to go on a $10,000 trip to China in June but she may have to use council-earned airpoints for the flights.

Kerry Prendergast will lead 39 business people on the 10-day trip, which includes two days attending the New Zealand pavilion at Shanghai's World Expo, plus visits to Wellington's two sister cities and Tianjin.

Councillors agreed on Wednesday that they will have to use airpoints earnt on council business to offset the cost of future trips where possible.

Ms Prendergast has 5140 airpoints available, which could shave $2700 off the cost of the Shanghai trip.

Four councillors opposed Ms Prendergast's trip, their reasons ranging from making a stand on China's human rights abuses to not seeing any real economic benefit to Wellington ratepayers.

Cr Iona Pannett says Wellington should take a stand against a country that makes economic gains at the cost of human rights and the environment.

But deputy mayor Ian McKinnon says it makes sense for the mayor to be at the expo in Shanghai with business leaders to facilitate future trade opportunities.

Cr John Morrisson, who was in favour of the trip, says Wellington would regret missing out as it is about business opportunities.