• 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.

It's time to go, Peter Part One - depaNews September 2006

It's time to go Peter

How long is too long? When the Local Government Superannuation Scheme was established in July 1997, members of the Working Party (including the depa Secretary) agreed that the Chair of the Board would rotate every four years between the employer and employee representatives. This is a normal arrangement on superannuation boards where half the members represent the contributors and half represent the employers.

Famous local government identity and then a councilor, Peter Woods was the inaugural Chair. Woods was the President of the LGA at the time - a position under the LGA Constitution with a limited term of two years but a position that Woods continued to occupy for twelve.

In 2001 the depa Secretary Ian Robertson and the LGEA’s Martin O’Connell raised the four-year term and the need to give the employee reps their turn. For a variety of reasons, the USU made an agreement with Peter Woods that he would be supported in the role as Chair for as long as Brian Harris was the General Secretary of the USU. Then it would be time to hand over to a representative of the employees. Fair’s fair.

Brian Harris retired from that position this week but the LGSS Board has been unable to dislodge Woods from the position of Chair.

Superannuation Boards require a three-quarter vote to be a majority and while in recent meetings there have been plenty of four all votes calling for him to stand down and to introduce an orderly transition to an employee representative, Woods remains there - refusing to debate the matter and trying to secure the extension of time.

Woods has been Chair for more than nine years. The position should be rotated, as all other industry and government superannuation funds operate, between the representatives of the employees and the reset representatives of the employers. Woods intransigence is unacceptable.

At the LGSS Board meeting on 27 September, the Board welcomed Brian Harris as a new USU representative but even having Brian there, to remind Woods of the deal and the need now to stand down, could not dislodge him.

The only thing more patronising and offensive than Woods’ refusal to stand down (supported by the other employer representatives on the Board - Blacktown Mayor Leo Kelly, Hurstville Councillor Beverly Giegerl and Shires Association Patron John Wearne) is the assertion they know better than us about the attitudes of our members.

We think they are wrong but we would like to know what you do think. You can use this link http://app.intellicontact.com/icp/sub/survey/start?sid=3486&cid=37499 now to express a view about whether Peter Woods, consistent with the principal of the Divine Right of Kings and can stay there as long as he damn well pleases. Or you can vote that you think it's time he moved on and gave the employee representatives their rightful turn. A transition that should have happened in 2001 and is now grossly and ludicrously overdue.

Use the link and tell us whether Woods can stay for life or whether proper governance requires a smooth transition and a fair rotation between the employee and employer representatives.

Finally, because when we tell members about this they do wonder what those on the Board get paid, the employee reps have it paid to their unions and don’t accept it personally but the employer representatives accept it as income.

From January 2004, employer directors receive $41 200 plus 9% SGC while the Chair of the LGSS gets paid $68 700 plus 9% SGC – a total of about $74 500 a year. How many members of the fund get that each year from their full-time jobs .

Robbo's Pearls...

LGS restores uranium nuclear screening

26 April marks 31 years since the largest nuclear energy disaster in history at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine. The disaster contaminated a huge area of the Ukraine, now known as the Chernobyl exclusion zone covering around 2600 km². The public are excluded from the area, both flora and fauna are contaminated forever and there has been significant animal, fish and human birth abnormalities and deformities. And the area is contaminated forever.

The disaster highlighted the significant risk associated with nuclear energy - as if it needed to be highlighted.

LGS has always taken the concept of responsible and sustainable investment more seriously than the rest of Australia’s superannuation funds - since 2000 when the fund decided not to own tobacco and to develop screening arrangements to reduce investment in nuclear/uranium, businesses with poor forestry practices (like Gunns), gambling etc. etc.

These screening practices have won LGS many accolades from responsible investment organisations, including being ranked number one in the world in the prestigious and authoritative Asset Owners Disclosure Project, twice.

But, despite my reluctance to personalise these issues, pretty much as soon as I had resigned as a director on the LGS Board after 16 years of primary responsibility for the introduction of these responsible investment commitments, a couple of pro-nuclear zealots on the Board thought it made sense to dismantle the Board’s historic screening against uranium and nuclear industries because of the stupid and misconceived understanding that nuclear energy did not produce carbon emissions. Stupid bastards.

We never let go of this, placing a clock on our homepage so that the world could see how many days it had been since that stupid decision was made back in September 2014. It would be a timely reminder of the decision and a constant nagging of the stupid bastards to recognise that the advice they had at the time was right - that there would be no investment advantage and that there would only be reputational damage.

LGS has now announced that the uranium/nuclear screening will be restored. Here is their media release. You will note that it doesn’t say that they should have taken advice from their own investment people at the time, they shouldn’t have behaved like a group of single-issue Montgomery Burns, that seeing nuclear technology as a solution for a low carbon future was one-dimensional thinking at its worst - like thinking that a mass murderer might be okay if they were good-looking and had nice manners. A little bit simplistic and wrong-headed. Stupid bastards.

But, good for them for acknowledging their folly and repairing the damage.

A wasted 965 days, more than two and a half years where people scratched their heads and wondered what kind of loonies had taken over the Board.

Our representative on the Board after the decision had been made, Sam Byrne, pursued this but the decision to restore the screening was a unanimous vote, so clearly everyone had come around to recognise that it was a mistake to remove it. Nice work. There may be a few stupid bastards still involved, but at least they’ve done this.

And we’ve decided to announce this on the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. Just to remind us that nuclear technology is not a viable energy source for a low carbon future when there are so many other renewable energy sources without the disadvantages or risks.

As the Chernobyl disaster happened at 1:24am in the Ukraine (seven hours behind Sydney time) on 26 April, the clock was removed from our homepage at that time.

And in a bit of a scoop and brilliant news for the historic and now reinstated commitment to responsible and sustainable investment, LGS was today announced as the top rated International fund (from a field of 600 institutional investors) in the prestigious and authoritative Asset Owners Disclosure Project.

This means that LGS is, without any doubt, the leading responsible and sustainable investment fund in Australia and it's a fabulous result for the commitment of the recently resigned CEO Peter Lambert who has ensured over more than a decade that the resolve of the Board to do precisely that, has been delivered.


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