Tamworth Regional Council almost pulls the pin on sister city agreement with Qinglong

SISTERLY SKIRMISH: He Qiang from Qinglong when the last Chinese delegation visited Tamworth in June. Photo: Geoff O'Neill 070616GOA04

SISTERLY SKIRMISH: He Qiang from Qinglong when the last Chinese delegation visited Tamworth in June. Photo: Geoff O'Neill 070616GOA04

COUNCIL came very close to pulling the pin on a sister-city agreement with Chinese city Qinglong.

After “frantic” conversations with its Chinese counterparts, Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) has kept the agreement alive, which Mayor Col Murray hopes has a huge economic potential.

The intercity agreement was plunged into jeopardy at Tuesday’s meeting, as council was set to rubber stamp Mayor Col Murray’s imminent trip to the Chinese city.

Cr Murray flagged axing the agreement at council’s meeting and said the “game had shifted” and wanted to make sure TRC wasn’t being pushed into something it did not want.

General manager Paul Bennett said Qinglong had indicated they wanted high-level, technical veterinary training out of the experience - a service Tamworth could not provide.

Cr Murray told The Leader the agreement was still on the table after a “frantic” few days of correspondence to re-establish the relationship.

“Unless we can get the intent of the friendly city agreement back on track we’re not going to sign the sister city agreement,” Cr Murray said.

“We’re hopeful that this will develop into something much more significant.

“We’d like them to invest in some hard infrastructure here.”

The mayor hopes council’s Chinese counterparts will play a bigger role in the recently established International Institute of Agriculture Research (IIAR) in Tamworth.

Cr Murray is set to fly out to China to sign the sister-city agreement in Qinglong, with the trip coming at a cost of nearly $4000.

But TRC was very keen to emphasise the expenses were not being drawn from the ratepayer purse and that the trip, and any subsequent trips would be funded by the IIAR.

“It’ll be like a little self-contained business activity that generates its own revenue to fund its ongoing operation,” Cr Murray said.

A group of eight students from Qinglong visited Tamworth in June, where they took part in a number of agricultural activities at TAFE and Farrer High School.

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