Some junkets make sense

September 09, 2017

Overseas junkets by local government figures can be easy to criticise.

Overseas junkets by local government figures can be easy to criticise.

They can be expensive and can contain plenty of hand-shaking and meet and greets.

And it would be difficult to measure the effectiveness and the ultimate short-term success of any trip.

A mayor or chief executive can seemingly return from such junkets with little in the way of concrete deals or commitments, but rather a stronger relationship with potential markets and potential buyers abroad.

This doesn’t look flashy and only across a matter of years or decades will the real picture of the success of such trips become clear.

But $5500 for a four-day trip to Hong Kong is a small price to pay considering the potential dividends participation in an industry event such as the Asia Fruit Logistica Expo could pay for the region.

Much is said about the opportunities open to local producers in Asian markets.

Much is said about the need to open up trade channels and buying and selling opportunities.

Greater Shepparton City Council’s decision to take part for the first time in this expo, which from reports appears to be ‘‘an excellent opportunity ... to attend and market the region’’, appears to be a step towards opening some of these doors, as well as learning more.

A report to a council meeting this year argued the expo would serve as an ‘‘efficient platform in Asia for gaining an overview of the market, scouting for new products and varieties and establishing new business contacts in this sector’’.

Officers had also flagged the idea that after attending the expo, it could consider even having a stall at future events.

And while noting such an endeavour could cost the council somewhere in the realm of $10000, surely this cost, potentially not a huge cost, should be closely considered, especially if the benefits of spruiking the region’s produce in new markets are adjudged to be lucrative and long lasting.

When the council considered endorsing attendance at the expo earlier this year, Cr Dennis Patterson commented the council could ill afford to ‘‘sit and watch the world go by’’, instead stressing on the need to ‘‘get out there and make it happen’’.

Surely this sort of participation, at a reasonably meagre expense, marks the sort of steps needed to build these relationships and open the doors so badly needed for this region to make the most of opportunities available over the coming decades.

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