Deputy furious over drought funding used on dinner

DRY RESPONSE: Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley is furious about a council-organised dinner, funded under a State Government drought program.
DRY RESPONSE: Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley is furious about a council-organised dinner, funded under a State Government drought program. Emma Boughen

MAYOR Peter Blundell and Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley have come to blows over a council decision to use drought funding to host a Christmas dinner for 100 rural producers and businesses in Warwick.

An angry Cr Bartley blew up in yesterday's council meeting, questioning the decision to use $7245 of drought funding to host a "lavish" dinner for a "select few".

The Warwick Rural Christmas Dinner was held at the RSL last night.

Slamming his hand down on the table, Cr Bartley said the mayor had "got it wrong"

"I am truly disappointed in this council," he said.

"Some of those people invited are some of the more affluent people in our community.

"The feedback I am getting is it could be slightly divisive amongst rural producers."

The 100 invited guests included banks, accountants and other rural businesses, which were each given 10 tickets for staff and clients.

The funding is part of a $70,000 allocation under the State Government's Community Drought Support program.

Is a dinner for banks, accountants, rural businesses and their clients a good use of drought funding?

This poll ended on 17 December 2015.

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This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Cr Bartley said he didn't believe it was the best use of taxpayers' money.

"We would not be as desperate as other areas of the state and I don't think we would be looked upon unfavourably if we returned the money to the state," he said.

"It seems like we're having a fire sale trying to get this money spent.

"I suggest it would have been a better option for an event at the showgrounds open to all rural producers."

Cr Blundell has defended the event, stating that it was aimed at building resilience and creating a positive outlook.

"It is Southern Downs Regional Council's view that rural producers and associated businesses are valuable and worthy of the additional investment in these dinners," he said.

"Council is hosting these dinners to celebrate and appreciate the contribution producers make to our local economy and community through the good times and the tough times."

Cr Blundell said while he would rather see the money in areas where it's needed, the funding was given to the council to use.

Topics:  christmas deputy mayor dinner editors picks warwick

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