(Charmed) life of Brian: CEO scores China trip
RATEPAYERS are forking out thousands of dollars to send Toowoomba Regional Council CEO Brian Pidgeon on a week-long trip to China.
Mr Pidgeon, council's CEO since July 2013, was selected to take part in the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise delegation without the knowledge of at least one councillor.
That councillor, who spoke to The Chronicle yesterday, was surprised to hear the CEO would be a delegate.
Mr Pidgeon will join Mayor Paul Antonio as a ratepayer-funded participant on the delegation which, according to a media statement, aims to build ties between Toowoomba and China's regions.
Cr Antonio said it was crucial Mr Pidgeon attend because there would be "significant negotiations" that would have "operational implications" for the council.
Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise chairman John Wagner and CEO Shane Charles will also go on the trip.
Mr Charles said his expenses would be covered by the enterprise, which receives $450,000 a year from council.
He said Mr Wagner would pay for the trip himself.
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Mr Charles said the enterprise had no input into who represented council.
"I think it's very important, especially considering that Asian culture holds leadership and authority so highly, that the mayor attends," he said.
"But it's also important someone from management should travel with the mayor."
Deputy Mayor Mike Williams said councillors had discussed the delegation and who would be attending at several briefings.
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"(But) there is no formal approval needed for the trip. Councillors have discussed it and approved it.
"(Mr Pidgeon) is travelling as support for the mayor to provide advice and back-up."
In a Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise media statement, it was outlined that the delegation would visit Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Xian.
AERgO International commercial manager Jamie Kennedy will also travel with the delegation.
A council spokesman said the costs of the delegation would be revealed in the "appropriate section" of the 2014-2015 annual report.