Editorial: Bill for Christmas lunch has arrived…get me a bucket!

Filed in Recent News by February 3, 2023

AS published in Editorial: No free lunches, but free dinners for Councillors, I promised I’d let you know what the final bill was for the Councillor’s Christmas function.

I published the above story after Council had voted not to spend approximately $600 to assist with teaching students at St Joseph’s in Merriwa to learn to swim.

I was also sick of watching people heading to the trough after a one hour Council meeting, for a dinner on the ratepayers. I couldn’t stomach the thought of knocking back small amounts of donations for community groups and then literally going and eating that amount. I further believe our community groups are doing a comparatively much better job for our community, are doing it for free and they get maximum bang for buck out of any small donations they are given.

As mentioned in the last story, I’ve never attended any of these dinners on principle. And I’ve only been invited to two anyway, nothing like equitable and fair access lol! But the bill for the Councillors Christmas lunch is jaw dropping!

Each Councillor was invited, with one guest and key staff who attend the monthly dinners. And for context, this same Council had spent $2,783.44 on these dinners until October.

I was advised of the following in email from the General Manager, Greg McDonald:

“I’ve received a question on the cost of the Christmas lunch function held for Councillors on the 19 December 2022. The catering costs are now in and the cost was $3,501.30.”

Since the swimming lessons for all 45 students at St Joseph’s Merriwa was in the order of $600, the Christmas lunch was approximately 6 times that amount! That’s six years of swimming lessons they could have been given instead.

But at least it was held at the function room in the airport, so visitor numbers will be up for that week.

The gluttony is worthy of a Monty Python skit…Get me a bucket!

Kind Regards, Cr Elizabeth Flaherty

All of the above are my perspectives, opinions and beliefs as a Councillor on the Upper Hunter Shire Council, are my own, which may not (in fact probably don’t) reflect Council’s position, but which as an elected representative I am supported in law to freely express.


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