Mayor unfazed by crisis in Korea ahead of Asian trip
THE ongoing political crisis in the Korean Peninsula has not deterred Mayor Paul Antonio from his third trip to Asia this year.
Cr Antonio flies out today to see Toowoomba's sister Paju in South Korea, attend the Asia-Pacific City Summit in Daejeon and visit the Chinese city of Shaoxing as part of a whirlwind 10-day trip.
The delegation, which no other councillors volunteered to join, comes amid rising tensions between North Korea and the west, including South Korea, Japan and the United States.
Paju is located on the border of the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between both countries.
Cr Antonio acknowledged the potentially volatile situation in Korea, but said it was unlikely to affect his trip.
"The real reason why we are going is to go to the Asia-Pacific City Summit," he said.
"It's being organised by the Council of Mayors in South-East Queensland, but it's primarily an initiative of (Brisbane Mayor) Graham Quirk.
"I'd be pretty unlucky for anything to happen over there - we are constantly monitoring reports from DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade).
"We could've said no, (and) there are councils in COMSEQ that have said they are not going, but most of the major councils are."
The brief visit to Shaoxing in China was brought on by a memorandum of understanding established last year when the mayor travelled to Shanghai with the AccessChina tour.
He said the potential benefits for trade and cultural understanding justified the trip.
"I would think we'll begin to improve trade with China soon, and we're on that journey now," he said.
"We've had a lot of meetings with people who want to trade (in Asia).
"There already is significant Chinese, Japanese and Korean investment in the region."
The council was heavily scrutinised in May when it revealed four ratepayer-funded trips were planned.
A trip to Whanganui in New Zealand in November will likely be postponed, partially because no councillors nominated for it.
The South Korea delegation was initially budgeted to cost $21,000, with a final journey report due after the trip has finished.