GDC spending on domestic air travel questioned

Waiting for take-off at Gisborne Airport. File picture

The Taxpayers’ Union has praised Gisborne District Council for not using ratepayer money on overseas trips but has questioned why Gisborne District Council needed to spend $202,914 flying around New Zealand.

A GDC response to an Official Information Act request from the Taxpayers Union confirmed the council had spent $202,914 on domestic air travel over the 2017/18 financial year to pay for 385 flights.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke said GDC ranked 14th out of 77 councils for total spend on air travel.

“Gisborne District Council deserves credit for resisting the allure of constant international junkets. As for the high domestic air travel spend, we imagine that the costs are higher than other councils due to the district’s isolation.

“That said, air travel is clearly a significant expense at the council and ratepayers will want an explanation for why exactly council staff need to leave the district so often. This kind of travel is low-hanging fruit for savings and can reflect the culture within the council. A more frugal council would, for example, replace meetings with Wellington officials with Skype calls.”

GDC internal partnerships director James Baty said it was council policy to book the most practical airfares and travel times in advance.

“However, most flights out of Gisborne are on average more expensive than other provinces.

“We use a travel management company to capitalise on their purchasing power, which ensures our expenditure is as cost-effective as possible.

“Wherever possible we do hold video conferences and teleconferences and will almost certainly choose this option if it is available, over flying staff out of the district.

“Training and development for a number of competencies required of local government activities often requires staff to travel to main centres. This is unavoidable.”

Councils in Auckland and Wellington were the nation’s biggest spenders on air travel, paying out $1,221,571 and $591,310 respectively.

The Taxpayers’ Union has praised Gisborne District Council for not using ratepayer money on overseas trips but has questioned why Gisborne District Council needed to spend $202,914 flying around New Zealand.

A GDC response to an Official Information Act request from the Taxpayers Union confirmed the council had spent $202,914 on domestic air travel over the 2017/18 financial year to pay for 385 flights.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke said GDC ranked 14th out of 77 councils for total spend on air travel.

“Gisborne District Council deserves credit for resisting the allure of constant international junkets. As for the high domestic air travel spend, we imagine that the costs are higher than other councils due to the district’s isolation.

“That said, air travel is clearly a significant expense at the council and ratepayers will want an explanation for why exactly council staff need to leave the district so often. This kind of travel is low-hanging fruit for savings and can reflect the culture within the council. A more frugal council would, for example, replace meetings with Wellington officials with Skype calls.”

GDC internal partnerships director James Baty said it was council policy to book the most practical airfares and travel times in advance.

“However, most flights out of Gisborne are on average more expensive than other provinces.

“We use a travel management company to capitalise on their purchasing power, which ensures our expenditure is as cost-effective as possible.

“Wherever possible we do hold video conferences and teleconferences and will almost certainly choose this option if it is available, over flying staff out of the district.

“Training and development for a number of competencies required of local government activities often requires staff to travel to main centres. This is unavoidable.”

Councils in Auckland and Wellington were the nation’s biggest spenders on air travel, paying out $1,221,571 and $591,310 respectively.

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winston moreton - 10 days ago
GDC spent $202,914 on domestic air travel over the 2017/18 financial year. How much did ECT and all of its offshoots like the Eastland Group spend (of our electricity money) on air travel for their consultants and staff? Remember too that ECT-controlled Gisborne Airport is the most expensive in NZ because of the $13.00 passenger levy and ridiculous carpark. By the way, the Eastland Port (think ECT) are working towards introducing paid parking around the Tatapouri Fishing Club. Planning hearing by out-of-town Commissioner (flown in from Christchurch) this week will pave the way.

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