Mayor in spat over $10,000 tourism body membership

Mayor in spat over $10,000 tourism body membership

THE Toowoomba Regional Council is now a member of the region’s newest tourism organisation, but the decision was not without heated debate between the mayor and another councillor.

The council’s $10,000, 12-month membership to John Wagner’s Tourism Darling Downs was passed in committee meetings on Wednesday.

But Cr Bill Cahill, who was the only member to vote against it, criticised the lack of key performance indicators attached to the membership.

“In the recommendation, given the length of the potential benefits, I don’t see any performance indicators in this,” he said during discussions.

“I note there are a lot of anecdotal comments as to the proposed benefits, but when it comes to quantifying them, we seem to struggle.”

Mayor Paul Antonio snapped back at the critique during his speech, saying the council joining both tourism bodies could offer an opportunity to work together.

“Who here went to the launch (at Gabbinbar Homestead on February 8)? You should’ve. They have done a lot of work and there’s a real enthusiasm,” he said.

“For those who are concerned about the justification of spending, there is another process for that – it’s called audits and if anyone wants to make any complaints (they can) go through that.

“The important part about this $10,000 that we’re putting on the table is not about KPIs and not about anything like that.

“It’s about the fact that we are now fully engaged – we ought to all be working together in the tourism space and that’s the issue that I’m concerned about.

“The issue is we have two bodies who seem to be, at times, not on the same page. They need to brought onto the same page and that may well be a role that we can play.”

In response, Cr Cahill reminded the councillors that the money was from the ratepayers and deserved critical assessment.

Speaking outside the chambers, Tourism Darling Downs CEO Ruth Wetmore said the council’s decision to join sent a statement to the region about the importance of tourism.