• 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.

Who is Peter Hurst? - depaNews August 2010


IRC acts to protect members at Wagga Wagga - and sets best practice model for all councils

At last, some proper recognition of a Council's duty of care when employees reputations are attacked

depa has had a long history of successfully acting to support members treated poorly by councillors behaving badly and/or local developers - Parramatta twice, Mudgee/Mid Western, Eurobodalla, Snowy River and Nambucca. Local government is a very easy target and no more so for professionals working in strategic planning and development control. After all, every application that draws objections will invariably end up with someone unhappy with someone else, often someone doing nothing more that discharging their obligations under a planning instrument or the BCA.

Everyone is familiar with local dissidents, loonies and others launching unwarranted attacks on staff in public or at council meetings or even the local press without employees having the opportunity to defend themselves - and the Council which employs them often reluctant to acknowledge that they have a duty of care to protect employees in the firing line.

But no longer.

Who is Peter Hurst and why is he so unkind?

Peter Hurst is a local builder of domestic dwellings in Wagga Wagga. He is also a local heavyweight in the Housing Industry Association and has taken a particular dislike to Wagga Wagga Council which, after a long period of being under-resourced and pretty relaxed about development standards, started to take the job seriously and discharge their obligations to the community under planning instruments.

So distressed that he thought it appropriate to lodge significant complaints against Council employees involved in the management of planning and development control and then to distribute that complaint as broadly as possible within the local community, anyone in Government who would listen and, aided and abetted by the local rag the Daily Advertiser, ran a vendetta against the Council.

We thought the investigation of the complaint took a little bit longer than we would have liked and we filed a dispute with the Industrial Relations Commission to both speed up the investigation and seek the Commission's assistance to remind the Council of its responsibilities to protect staff and their reputations against defamatory and slanderous claims made by people who thought they could do so with impunity.

In a significant precedent, Deputy President Grayson issued a Statement on 11 August after the Council had dismissed all of the allegations made by Mr Hurst. Amongst other things the Commission called for the Council to:

  • "obtain legal advice as to whether any employee has been defamed by any person and in particular by the complainant, Peter Hurst and the Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser. And in relation to the Daily Advertiser in editorial and journalistic content and the publication of blogs and thereafter that the council take any legal action consistent with that advice."
  • "prepare a letter to the complainant, Mr Hurst, expressly rejecting the allegations made by the complainant in relation to personal gain, breaches of the Code of Conduct and alleged attempt to deceive by incorrectly reporting development applications." The Commission also recommended that agreement be reached between the Council and depa on the content and terms of that letter
  • hand-deliver the dismissal of the allegations to Mr Hurst and call for his apology in an agreed form "to be published as broadly as the allegations have been published by the complainant and that the complainant indicate genuine remorse and a commitment to develop better interpersonal relationships in the future"
  • to explore the publication of the letter dismissing the allegations "as broadly as possible in the local media and, in the absence of proper publication, be the subject of a paid advertisement, in particular in the aforementioned Daily Advertiser"
  • to convene a meeting "and extend invitations to the complainant, Mr Hurst, and other critical and/or hostile builders and developers in the City of Wagga Wagga, with a view to acknowledging the factual inaccuracies of the complaint and with a view to developing a positive civil and professional relationships for the future, with a further aim of securing an undertaking from the critics that the media campaign being waged against the Council is at an end."
  • "without delay, develop and implement a policy around its duty of care to employees and around its need within the employment relationship to protect them against personal and reputational damage in the future."
The Council has already had its lawyers write to the Dirty Advertiser to secure the removal of offensive material from their site and the lawyers are reviewing all relevant material to see if employees have been defamed and then to act on that advice.

Mr Hurst had the dismissal of his complaint hand-delivered but we are waiting for the apology requested in the Council’s letter.

This will be a measure of the man. We hope he will be big enough to acknowledge his mistakes, apologise appropriately and get on with the job. We will see.

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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