Port Macquarie-Hastings councillors have voted to continue to foster the relationship between council and Handa City, Japan.
Councillors voted for Port Macquarie-Hastings Council Mayor Peta Pinson, along with up to two other Councillors to travel to Handa from April 17-21.
Cr Pinson's expenses related to the trip will be covered by council. For other councillors, 50 per cent of the expenses related to the trip will be covered by council (via the Councillor Conference Budget) and the balance is to be self-funded by the councillors.
Members of the Handa Sister City Working Group will also attend.
April 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of sister city relationship between Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and Handa City.
Up to six councillors were invited to attend celebrations at Handa in April.
On Thursday, January 30 a meeting was held to discuss the value, cost and future direction of the Sister City relationship with Handa, and especially the planned and proposed exchange events in 2020.
The mayor, deputy mayor, Cr Alley, Cr Hawkins, Cr Turner, council staff, members of the Handa Sister City Working Group and associated stakeholders attended the meeting.
According to the council meeting agenda, discussion focused around the view there is potential for further trade and tourism value from the relationship, and should time be invested in this.
Cr Turner said the Handa Sister City Working Group is made up of enthusiastic people, who have glowing stories about the benefit the relationship has had over the past 30 years.
Resident Rachel Sheppard addressed the February 2020 meeting and said in light of the recent bushfire crisis members of council should not attend the celebrations in April.
"Our community is in recovery from a nightmare bushfire season, and facing critical water security concerns, both of which are driven by climate change," she said.
"Handa officials will certainly not take offence when they are informed of the disasters our community has faced, and understand the inappropriateness of the mayor or councillors using rate payers' money to attend celebrations at this difficult time."
However, Ms Sheppard said the relationship with Handa is valuable.
She called on councillors to reignite the relationship in a collaboration, to develop innovative climate mitigation and adaptation solutions.
She said a cultural exchange might benefit both communities' safety and economies.
Cr Pinson is set to extend an invitation to the Mayor of Handa for a reciprocal visit to Port Macquarie, also in 2020.
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