Lord Mayor Martin Haese is facing a backlash within his council over plans to attend the UN Climate Conference in Paris and miss the annual Lord Mayor’s Christmas Party.
Adelaide City councillors Phil Martin and Anne Moran each told InDaily they would oppose Haese making the ratepayer-funded trip, after he was invited to do so by Environment Minister Ian Hunter.
The councillors told InDaily the Lord Mayor should skip the global climate change summit so that he could be in Adelaide for the council’s Christmas party, and for the result of an impending byelection to replace former area councillor, now-Greens Senator Robert Simms.
Moran said the annual Christmas function was an important way to thank those who had helped the council do its work over the past year.
“We invite people to thank them for their work with the Adelaide City Council over the past year,” said Moran.
“It’s more than a party.
“If we want to send someone knowledgeable we should send … senior staff members who have been working on (the council’s climate change initiatives).
“(Haese’s) job is to keep the council working.
“We are a council not a state government.
“He should stay where his first priority (is).”
Martin said that it would be wrong for Haese to attend the November 30 – December 11 conference since the council had not yet finalised a ‘carbon neutral Adelaide’ policy, and because Haese would miss the Christmas party, as well as the result of the byelection.
“I’m going to oppose the Lord Mayor going to Paris,” he told InDaily.
“I understand that the city of love is beckoning, but … don’t go.”
He urged the Lord Mayor not to “make a bigger carbon footprint” by attending.
Both councillors said they accepted climate change science, but that it was an important time for the Lord Mayor to be in Adelaide.
Asked if he thought it absurd that some of his councillors believed his attendance at a Christmas party more important than attendance at a global climate summit, Haese told InDaily to “write your own conclusions about that”.
He said the Paris conference was “the most anticipated forum of any kind in the world this year, if not in recent years”.
“I think it’s an incredible acknowledgement of the work that the City of Adelaide is doing.
“There would be cities that would just queue up for an opportunity like that and I think Adelaide should do it.
“And that means I should do it.
“It would almost be negligent for Adelaide not to do it.
“We would be absolutely conspicuous by our absence.”
Haese said he did not know how much the trip would cost, because it hadn’t yet been booked.
He said he would do his best to attend both the climate summit and the Christmas party, if possible, and would phone the winner of the byelection from Paris if he is not in Adelaide when the result is announced.
Councillor Sandy Wilkinson said he was “not sure” about Haese attending, questioning whether the trip “is a real benefit for ratepayers”.
But he said he was willing to be swayed by the arguments at tonight’s council meeting, which will debate Haese’s proposed trip.
Topshots/AFP Photo Philipp Guelland
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