• Private certifier gets nailed – depaNews November 2010
  • Wake up and don't worry - depaNews February 2011
  • HR professionals – depaNews January 2009
  • Upper Hunter gets coy – depaNews March 2011
  • BPB kills off B1 & B2 - depaNews July 2009
  • Councillors behaving badly Part One - depaNews December 2009
  • Councillors behaving badly Part Two - depaNews December 2009
  • Who is Peter Hurst? - depaNews August 2010
  • It's time to go, Peter Part One - depaNews September 2006
  • It's time to go Peter Part Two - depaNews December 2006
  • BPB survey on accreditation – depaNews November 2008
  • Improbable things start to come true – depaNews June 2010
  • Sex, lies and development – depaNews February 2008
  • Pizza man feeds non-members – depaNews April 2011
  • Bankstown wins HR Award – depaNews December 2010
  • Love him or loathe him - depaNews October 2007
  • Good Bad & Ugly issue – depaNews November 2010
  • Upper Hunter lets the dogs out - depaNews February 2011
  • IRC puts brakes on belligerent seven – depaNews June 2009
  • It's Tweedledum and not Tweedledumber - depaNews March 2007
  • 28 April International Day of Mourning - depaNews April 2009
  • IRC orders Hurst 'apology' published - depaNews December 2010
  • Debate on IR policy – depaNews August 2007
  • Developer agrees to apologise – depaNews November 2010
  • OH&S Day of Mourning – depaNews April 2009

The Development and Environmental Professionals' Association (depa)

Welcome to the depa website. We are an industrial organisation representing professional employees working in local government in New South Wales in a variety of jobs in the fields of environmental health, public health, building and development control and planning.

We take a broad approach to our responsibilities to members and give advice and assistance on professional issues as well as industrial and workplace issues. We understand what members do at work and that allows us to take a holistic approach.  Read more about us...

This site will keep you up-to-date with union news and the diverse range of workplace advocacy issues we deal with daily. We have made it easy for members to contact us with online forms and quickly Join depa onlne nowaccess information from our extensive FAQs.

Upper Hunter gets coy – depaNews March 2011

Nurse

Upper Hunter gets coy about their ineffective testing regime

“… the question now is whether it would be unjust or unreasonable for the company to implement the urine-based random testing regime with its wide "window of protection", with all that implies for interfering with the private lives of employees, when a much more focused method is available, where a positive test is far more likely to indicate actual impairment, and is far less likely to detect the use of drugs at the time that would have no consequential effect on the employee's performance at work."

This is an extract from the decision of Senior Deputy President Hamburger in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in Shell Refining v CFMEU. The Commission, in a decision which is now the Federal authority, found that it would be unjust or unreasonable to move beyond the existing saliva testing regime to the less effective and more intrusive urine-testing.

We couldn't have put it better. The most effective method of testing for impairment at work is saliva because urine gives no indication of how recently a drug was taken. While it might let you know who-did-what two weeks ago, it doesn't let you know who-did-what just before they came to work. As the AIRC appreciates, it fails to be an effective test of impairment at work and is overwhelmed by the negatives of invading the privacy of employees with findings that have no effect on the employee's performance at work.

So why would Upper Hunter want to test the urine of applicants for jobs (including anyone who may apply for the current vacancy for the grossly underpaid position of Director of Environmental Services) and then randomly test thereafter, when the evidence is that this method lacks the focus necessary to detect occupational risks and hazards? They say it’s to manage workplace safety risks but it doesn't do that.

We don't know - but we will find out.

We have asked Upper Hunter a range of questions and they have replied with some of the information we were after. Their Alcohol and Other Drugs Procedure says "Council will continue to seek the advice and guidance of our testing provider and other industry experts, in relation to the most appropriate and viable option for alcohol and other drug testing" but they tell us that their testing providers gave no advice about “the most appropriate and viable option for alcohol and other drug testing”.

They should make up their minds. Upper Hunter can't claim to take advice and guidance about the appropriate option but then claim that they didn't do so. And then, when we ask specific questions about this testing option that they are "unable to respond on behalf of its providers in relation to this question." This is not a time to be cute or coy.

If they lack this much focus and have so much inconsistency in their responses, maybe they should be saliva tested?

And if "neither testing provider tried to influence Council as to which method of testing was to be adopted", who did?

Robbo's Pearls...

Farewell Ernie, thanks for everything

Ernie Page 18 February 1935 - 20 May 2018

Ernie Page was a comrade to me and depa and a friend of local government.  He was a community activist before the expression was invented, a councillor on Waverley Council for 15 years from 1962 to 1987 and Mayor for nine of those years, a member of the New South Wales Parliament representing the seat of Waverley from 1981 until 1991 when it was abolished, and then three more terms as member for Coogee.

Ernie was a lifelong member of the ALP, was active in his union the USU and was awarded life membership in recognition, was the Shadow Minister for Local Government for what seemed like forever and the Minister for Local Government from 1995 to 1999.  It was during this time he entrenched his position as a friend of depa, organised drinks in Parliament House for a freshly elected Committee of Management, regularly attended depa events, was always available for advice, assistance and to be lobbied, and was responsible as Minister for Local Government for establishing a consultative mechanism between Government and the local government unions and in the Five Year Review of the Local Government Act in 1998 recommended the removal of term contracts for senior staff - sadly, like some of Ernie’s best ideas, killed off by the conservatives in the Parliamentary Party and the Cabinet Office.

Ernie believed in and loved local government.  He knew how it worked, where it was deficient, where it should improve and what should be done to improve it.  And while appointed by Bob Carr as Minister in 1995, he was also removed by Carr in 1999 in one of his worst decisions. Ernie was furious and disappointed, privileging me to a call containing more C words than I thought humanly possible, and unchallenged by anything I’ve seen or heard before or after.
 
Thanks, Ernie.  At a time when we have little respect for our politicians, either State or in local government, that we don’t have more people devoting their working lives as assiduously, selflessly and honourably, as you did.


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