A POTENTIAL loss of “honour” between Frankston and Japan has been avoided after council’s mayor decided to pay for a trip to Frankston sister city Susono out of his own pocket.
Some councillors at the 3 April public council meeting expressed concerns about the cost to ratepayers of the mayor’s proposed trip to the Australian Fair in Susono in September.
A delegation from the Frankston Susono Friendship Association heads to Japan every second year and Japanese visitors come to Frankston in the alternate years the delegation stays at home.
The cost of the Japan trip for mayoral airfares and accommodation is about $2000 in total.
Frankston and Susono have had a sister city relationship for 36 years. Wuxi in China is another sister city of Frankston.
Crs Quinn McCormack and Michael O’Reilly questioned the benefit of sister city relationships at the 3 April meeting.
Cr O’Reilly said he opposed councillors taking ratepayer-funded overseas trips.
Cr Kris Bolam said he had been a sceptic of the sister city concept but he has seen how Frankston children who head to Susono as part of the delegation “got a lot out of it” from “a cultural exchange” point of view.
Cr Sandra Mayor noted “with the Japanese it is all about honour” so it is important for council to have a representative on the delegation.
The councillors were split 4-4 (Crs Bolam, Brian Cunial, Mayer and Steve Toms for and Crs Glenn Aitken, McCormack, O’Connor, Lillian O’Connor against) on ratepayers funding the mayoral trip and deputy mayor Cr O’Connor, chairing the meeting as the trip was debated since the mayor declared an interest, used her casting vote to ensure ratepayers would not pick up the trip tab.
At the latest 23 April public council meeting Cr Hampton declared he would pay for the journey to Susono himself.
The mayor told The Times he believes the sister city relationship with Susono is “a very close relationship” for more than three decades.
“It has been built up and promoted by Frankston citizens — not by council,” Cr Hampson said.
“Some of our kids have learnt Japanese and are translators because of it.”
Frankston Susono Friendship Association chair Peter Patterson addressed councillors at the latest meeting and praised Cr Hampton’s commitment to the relationship between Susono and Frankston.
“I believe there is a clear and high expectation that the mayor of each city will lead the visit to each city,” Mr Patterson said. “We already have 20 people committed to the delegation of which ten are students from Frankston High School.”
Mr Patterson said association volunteers host Japanese festivals and work with schools who have Japanese as part of their curriculum.