In the 1980s we had 800 members. We recruited our 1000th member in that decade and membership numbers went up, and then down after 1996 when members took the opportunity to flee the rigors of local government and have a go at private certification – you know, put everything in your partner’s name, approve everything (and not even have to go to the site!) and make some money.

The gradual but increasing proportion of planners since we started accepting planners as members a decade or so ago has meant that in October we came very, very close to reaching 1300 members.

So Louise emailed all of our delegates offering a $50 incentive to go out and recruit someone to be the 1300th member. Something a bit better than our standard bottle of wine for recruiting a couple of new members and considerably less than what seems to have been the practice in rewarding purchasing officers across the industry – no televisions or electronic devices delivered to your home from depa.

Within 40 minutes of the e-mail going out, our long-standing delegate at Randwick Council John Skene recruited Scott Williamson. Thanks John and welcome Scott. And to show what a good bloke John is, he donated the $50 to the Children’s Cancer Institute of Australia.  Nice one. John has worked in local government since 1976 and a member since 1991 after abandoning a career in HR – clearly his good values and caring attitude didn’t fit too well - working at Bankstown and Randwick since 2002.

Scott is a planner too, so there’s something about the diversity of our membership when an experienced health and building surveyor recruits a young planner.

In a way it’s a shame they are both blokes (because this is no longer a blokes’ organisation) but in the last membership report to the Committee of Management meeting two weeks ago, there were 23 men and 26 women new recruits. Our Committee has two women members of nine but for proper proportional representation we could do with one or two more when the elections are held next year.

There was still no recruitment of new members at Orange.

Conciliation before Justice Marks in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission on 28 September has removed from Canterbury the risk that simple, unobnoxious and inoffensive words like "petite" and "attractive" are a breach of the Council’s Code of Conduct. We always thought that was nonsense and that if this issue ever went to arbitration the Council would be a laughing stock and, with the assistance of the Commission, the Council has changed its view.

While this ludicrous issue arose from specific allegations against an individual member, the imprecision and the broad effects of the allegation meant that everyone at the Council was really at risk. Golly, we all let a little bit of ripe language slip sometimes, don't we?

Not much gee whiz, blimey, gosh, rats or other Victorian niceties these days.

While Canterbury agreed to remove this as an allegation they have not yet positively responded to our suggestions that we would support a general campaign at the Council for more sensitive and civil communication.

 

Our dispute at Blayney this year had all the negative characteristics of working in local government.

Unacceptable behaviour by a councillor; a failure by the Mayor to control a meeting; a general manager in a coma failing to remind the Mayor of his responsibility; a reluctance by the errant councillors (and the comatose general manager) to acknowledge and apologise for their mistakes; bans and then a strike by members in support of the Director as a fellow member; tampering with the minutes of the meeting to misrepresent what had happened at the meeting; the intervention of the Industrial Relations Commission; the intervention of the Division of Local Government also at our request; a new set of minutes to restore what had really happened rather than the fraudulent cover-up; a walkout by a general manager who had enough of being caught between the staff and the Council etc etc.

Yes please, I want to work at a place like that! Destination 2036 should have looked at Blayney when they were looking to create a viable, efficient industry which is an employer of choice over the next 25 years.

It might have been lame, it was invariably pathetic, it was a little bit shameful and it had to be squeezed out of them, but Gosford has provided a written apology to our member involved in the hapless investigation by the Council’s conga line of incompetents carried out earlier this year. We reported on it in August.

The letter from the Acting General Manager noted that he wanted to "extend an apology to you for a number of shortcomings associated with this matter" and begrudgingly "acknowledge that the investigation took place over an extended period of time." Well durr.

Why is it so hard for people who stuff something up to acknowledge it, apologise and get on with it?

Last week Local Government Super launched a refurbishment of 76 Berry Street North Sydney with a gas-powered tri-generation system that simultaneously generates electricity, heating and cooling. The tri-generation plant will cut the building's emissions by 85% and it is expected to be independent of the grid within 12 months.

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