Balloot seeks Chinese links

China calling: Liverpool councillor Gus Balloot is planning a trip to the China, where he plans to promote Liverpool to foreign investors. Picture: Simon Bennett

China calling: Liverpool councillor Gus Balloot is planning a trip to the China, where he plans to promote Liverpool to foreign investors. Picture: Simon Bennett

LIVERPOOL councillor Gus Balloot says it is time the council expanded its responsibilities to include international relations.

Cr Balloot, a Liberal, called on the council to create a sister city relationship with Chinese city Hangzou at the last council meeting for the purpose of courting investors for the area.

‘‘State and federal governments have identified China as one of Australia’s key trading partners and MPs have travelled there to create links. Liverpool should do the same,’’ Cr Balloot said.

‘‘With an airport planned for this area, we will need five-star hotels, convention centres and venues for visitors.

‘‘We need to attract that investment now.

‘‘Some councillors think that we’ve only been elected to look after trees and parks, but that’s not how you grow a city. That’s not how you bring unemployment down.

‘‘I want to put Liverpool on the map.’’

The council voted to allow Cr Balloot to take a translated version of the city’s promotional material with him when he attends the eighth APEC Small and Medium Enterprise Technology Conference at his own expense later this month.

But councillors did not vote to create the sister city relationship, instead asking council officers to draft a report on the proposal and to provide an analysis of Liverpool’s sister city relationships.

Cr Peter Harle, of the Liverpool Community Independents Team, said he did not support the move, because it was not the council’s responsibility to generate jobs.

‘‘Most sister city relationships are cultural; it is just not our role to improve trade links,’’ Cr Harle said.

Liverpool mayor Ned Mannoun, a Liberal, said it was important for the council to act now to attract foreign investors.

‘‘There’s so much development happening in this area, but we need to make sure we have jobs, people need employment options close to home.

‘‘Its the council’s responsibility to advocate on the behalf of the city.’’

Labor councillor Anne Stanley said she saw the move as a ploy by Cr Balloot to get a free air fare to China.

‘‘If its so important, shouldn’t the mayor or the deputy mayor be going?’’ Cr Stanley said.

‘‘There was no reason given why Cr Balloot is the one that should go and I know that he does have some business interests in China.’’

Cr Wendy Waller (Labor) said it was important to foster economic links between China and Liverpool, but it wasn’t something the council should rush into.

‘‘This needs an objective, hands-off approach and we should have a report with all of the facts before us,’’ Cr Waller said.

‘‘The council should look at every opportunity of bringing business to Liverpool, but it should be done in ways that we can afford.’’

Cr Balloot, who works in menswear manufacturing, said the council would be covering only the costs of transporting Liverpool’s publicity material to the conference.

He said he did not have any business interests in the areas on his itinerary, which includes Beijing and Yiwu.


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