HEPBURN Shire councillor Sebastian Klein says he’ll continue to champion for his ward despite taking up to five absences for the year to pursue personal projects.
Cr Klein’s chair will be vacant for at least three council meetings and he will spend weeks outside of the shire, after councillors approved several blocks of leave for the Coliban Ward representative at their November meeting.
Cr Klein did not attend the meeting, as he was on leave in Sydney.
Cr Klein said he was completing an 18-month Australian Rural Leadership Program that required him to attend sessions in India and New South Wales.
He was one of 30 people selected annually for the program, designed to increase the capacity of people to provide leadership in rural communities. His place was funded by the Sidney Myer Foundation.
He was also invited to attend the World Sustainable Energy Days in Austria in February to present a paper he authored on Pathways and Barriers to BioEnergy in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia.
“The community in the Coliban Ward and Trentham in particular, have been really supportive of my participation in the rural leadership program,” he said,
“The community, knowing me and knowing how easy I am to contact, have been really supportive.
“It’s challenging and it’s pushing me beyond what I would normally be doing at home.
“It has been a great opportunity to debate some of the current topical issues like fuel verses food in terms of how we use our agricultural land.”
It comes after Cr Klein was granted nearly two months of leave to attend trips for the course while serving as mayor in 2011/12.
In addition to missing Tuesday’s November ordinary meeting, Cr Klein will miss February’s meeting due to a trip to India from February 10 to 23.
Then, from February 27 to March 1, he attends the World Sustainable Energy Days.
He misses the June meeting for a trip to New England in New South Wales during June 16-22 and is due to attend the final module of the course during September 15-22.
Cr Klein said this final module, including graduation, appeared likely to be conducted in the Hepburn Shire.