The unkind might suggest that paying $4500 a day for our elected councillors to have a trip away at ratepayers' expense is a gravy train worth riding.

Others might consider it money well invested.

Our report yesterday that councillors are heading back to school highlights something most ratepayers might not appreciate - that being a councillor can be damned confusing.

While qualified council officers do a sound job of disseminating swathes of technical reports amassed about some highly technical issues, that does not mean elected representatives should not have their own ability to make sense of much of the material - at least to a level that means they can make quality policy decisions.


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Legal constraints, procedures, the ability to read a set of accounts - this is knowledge a good councillor should possess.

And so we should not balk at efforts put in place to upskill those who require it, or for paying for the expenses associated with occasional off-campus courses. Remember being a councillor is not a fulltime job. Yet the call upon their time can often be.

Many of our councillors have lives to lead, incomes to make and businesses to run. Their attendance at the many various extra-curricula workshops asked of them, as well as attending scheduled meetings and keeping on top of the weighty agenda material, is not all they do. And now they have homework on top.

But they must resist becoming indoctrinated.

Bury a person in enough rules and regulations and they risk becoming inert. Councillors are not always highly skilled professionals and neither are they supposed to be. They are elected to represent us ordinary folk and carry forth our concerns and aspirations into the debating chamber and they should always be ready and able to challenge, ask questions and, as Ray Stevens might have once said, "create merry hell".

Meantime they can dust off their slide rules and oil their abacus, because the school bell's about to ring.