• 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.

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It's time to go Peter Part Two - depaNews December 2006

It's time to go Peter

The September Bulletin reported on the steps being taken by the employee representatives on the LGSS since July to have Chair Peter Woods stand down after almost 9 1/2 years and allow a member representative to replace him. As background we reported that Woods had agreed in 1997 to stand down in 2001 and to rotate the Chair between employee and employer representatives every four years.

An agreement with the USU in 2001 saw him reappointed with an agreement with the then General Secretary of the USU Brian Harris to stand down when Harris retired from his position. Harris retired in September but Woods remains. We should all learn a lesson from this. It’s so much better to have terms of office included in a Constitution or some other document.

Well, it's now December and Woods remains firmly and resolutely in the Chair.

Hundreds of members used the link provided in the September Bulletin to deny that Woods, consistent with the Divine Right of Kings, should remain Chair as long as he damn well liked. And a lot of people who aren't members used the link to tell us that he should go as well. We had no idea so many general managers and other interested people cared.

The Chair was very agitated at the December meeting of the LGSS Board that the report in our September Bulletin, published also on our "tin pot union website", as he put it, breached Board confidentiality, so it is with some trepidation that we continue to report things we think that members of the LGSS have a right to know.

There is a "general flavour of disclosure"(as a lawyer once described it to us) in the Superannuation Industry Supervision (SIS) Act and it is the SIS Act, together with Corporations Law, that determines how a superannuation fund should behave. The SIS Act requires that boards are obliged to provide certain information to members of the fund but the "general flavour of disclosure" encourages openness and transparency in the stewardship and management of members’ retirement incomes.

Corporations Law regulates public corporations and establishes relatively strict levels of confidentiality - levels now being challenged by shareholder rights organisations and advocates as little more than an excuse to hide things that should ordinarily be accessible by shareholder owners. Public corporations don't have the same obligations to disclose as superannuation funds which comply with the SIS Act.

But an agitated Chair is an agitated Chair so we won't be reporting on what may have been said by individual Board members in debate and we won't be reporting on the numbers of votes cast on particular resolutions. We think people should be more accountable and if you going to say stupid things at Board meetings, you should be game enough to say them outside. Or just not say stupid things at all.

Neither will we report on how many meetings of the Board have been abandoned because the employer representatives have refused to attend, the difficulties in organising shareholder meetings to resolve this issue because LGSA shareholder representatives haven't been available, nor the plethora of things that occur that the employer representatives would like to keep quiet. Well, not yet anyway.

Clearly there are things that are superannuation boards deal with that should be confidential - tendering, business and commercial matters, personal and financial details about individual members etc - but there are many, many things that should be accessible to members as part of our accountability in managing their retirement incomes.

Confidentiality provisions should never be misused to suppress information that is legitimately the right of members. Like, for example, the proper disclosure of how The Chair can hold onto a position he should have handed over back in September and the sorts of things he and the other employee representatives say at Board meetings in defence of that unacceptable practice. Neither will we report what is said at Board meetings about what is happening in the background to make it more acceptable for The Chair to do the right thing. Well, not yet anyway.

An agreement has been reached in principle between the LGSA and the USU shareholders for a Constitution change from 31 March to require a new Chair and the introduction of a rotating two-year term. While we and the LGEA wanted a four year term for the first employee member Chair, and while the LGSA correspondence doesn't mention their acceptance that the new Chair will be a member representative, this is probably how it will all end. No bang, lots of wimpering.

So, despite this agreement, The Chair would still not acknowledge that he would stand down when he was pressed at the LGSS Board meeting on 20 December. We think we can get away with saying what didn't happen at Board meetings.

We expect Woods will be gone as Chair on 31 March and will revert to a position of Board member and that, around that time, he will also become Chair of the Futureplus Board - another of the five boards that ex-councillor Woods sits on, and is remunerated for, as part of his LGSS role.

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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