ONE look at the long list of committees that councillors signed up for on Tuesday night should be enough to silence the knockers in the community, who are all too ready to criticise our elected representatives as ego-driven wasters of ratepayers’ money.
The truth about service in local government as a councillor is that the remuneration is little more than pocket money for those who adopt a serious workload. That has applied to most in the past, and will probably apply to the vast majority on the current council.
In addition to attending two major meetings a month, which can require considerable preparation, all councillors have accepted roles on committees that do much of the groundwork for the whole council to consider.
The committee structure is the only way for a council to get community input on an issue that its decisions will affect.
From committees representing the villages in the Orange local government area to others covering youth, ageing, road safety and sport and recreation, there is a great variety of work to be done in scores of policy areas.
Without committees there would be no practical way for councillors to drill down into complex issues and test public opinion against their own opinions, and the advice of staff.
It is significant that the council has appealed for members of the public to volunteer to serve on many of the committees. In the past the number of committees has waxed and waned, but it is invariably when the number of committees and the level of community participation declines that the council runs into opposition.
Those new to council will find committee work can be rewarding but it can also be a thankless task.
Whether it is the former or the latter depends largely on whether members of the community do get involved at the committee level and councillors get a genuine sense that their decisions are being made in the best interests of everyone.