Council overturns sister city decision, plans to apologise to 'friends in China'

Wagga City Council mayor Greg Conkey.
Wagga City Council mayor Greg Conkey.

Wagga City Council will formally apologise to Kunming after councillors reversed a controversial decision to sever its Chinese sister city ties.

Mayor Greg Conkey called an extraordinary meeting tfor Wednesday night after a motion initiated by Councillor Paul Funnell was narrowly passed last week, sparking a fierce backlash at a local, national and international level.

Cr Conkey, who was absent through illness from the last meeting, said he was "shocked, distraught and physically ill" when watching the events unfold on April 14.

"This motion was an insult to the mayor and people of Kunming after the hospitality shown to me, past mayors and the people who have visited," he said.

Cr Conkey said there was no doubt the decision would have caused "disbelief and anger" from the people of Kunming, which was the reason he urged councillors to support a motion that erased the decision and to send a formal letter of apology to Wagga's sister city and the council's "friends in China".

However, standing firmly behind his decision was Cr Funnell, who lost the support of councillors Tim Koschel and Yvonne Braid - both of whom supported the decision to cut ties with the city of Kunming in the first instance.

Cr Funnell said the commentary that ensued following the debate only reaffirmed his view that Wagga "must not remain in this cosy relationship".

He said this decision was not racially motivated and, in fact, was supported by "hundreds of Australians with a Chinese background" who contacted him "respecting" his stance.

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