Brisbane City Council's overseas travel expenses soared to $185,000 in the past financial year, more than double the previous period's figure and a six-fold increase on 2015-16.
There were 30 overseas trips made by staff and counsellors in 2017-18, which was double the number of trips from the previous year.
Brisbane City Council’s 2017-18 annual report revealed the highest figure for overseas travel dating back to 2007-08, the oldest publicly-available report, as 12 months of travel cost ratepayers $185,821.
The drop in travel expenses in 2015-16 and 2011-12 coincided with the council election period.
The council's finance and economic chairwoman Krista Adams said the council approved travel only where it would deliver benefits to the city.
In 2017-18, almost $32,000 was spent on a trip for three council officers to travel to several destinations in Europe for “Brisbane Metro vehicle and facility inspections”.
More than $37,000 was spent on a trip to Germany for three council officers to attend the IFAT 2018 Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Waste and Raw Materials Agent.
More than $14,000 was spent on a council officer’s two trips to China for “site inspections” understood to relate to the construction of the new $7.5 million New Farm ferry terminal.
Opposition leader Peter Cumming said he was astounded the overseas travel bills had gone sky-high under lord mayor Graham Quirk, claiming they should have gone down.
“With the internet making face-to-face contact and research easier than ever before, the overseas travel bill should be decreasing, not hitting record levels,” he said.
“It’s staggering the bill has doubled in a year and residents deserve an explanation.
“Council officers should spend more time behind their computers and less time on planes.”
Quirk administration finance chairwoman Krista Adams said travel for trade missions increased investment in Brisbane and created more local jobs as well as meetings about major infrastructure projects and upcoming contracts.
“Travel will always vary year on year, as it is only undertaken when it offers a benefit," she said.
"Trade missions are not undertaken every year and the biennial Asia Pacific Cities Summit (for which Brisbane is the secretariat) is sometimes hosted in Brisbane.”
In 2017-18, $10,289 was spent on two trips for Cr Quirk, which included a trip to New Zealand for the Lord Mayoral Business Mission, and a trip to South Korea and China for the Lord Mayoral Business Mission to the 2018 Asia Pacific Cities Summit and Mayor’s Forum.
Deputy mayor and transport chairman Adrian Schrinner travelled to Singapore at the cost of $5363 for the South East Queensland Council of Mayors Singapore Business Mission.