President of the Association of Accredited Certifiers Craig Hardy must have made some astonishing New Year resolutions. Last year he thought those of you accredited by the BPB and working in local government were soft or thick and pushovers for developers and nowhere near as rigourous or demanding as the really smart private certifiers, like him.

And he didn’t just mention this quietly to people, muttering in private behind his hand, he boasted this in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph on 11 September where he said that “private certifiers were tougher on builders than were their Council counterparts.”

But now, he wants all those BPB-accredited employees in local government to become members of his own lobby group and he wants to give you a year’s membership for free! What a lovely bloke, you might think (although from the responses we’ve had from members who received his offensive and guileless invitation, not many of you do) but our view of Craig remains unchanged.

Whether it’s the AAC or AIBS, they are really just lobbyists for private certifiers but, because there are more BPB-accredited staff in local government than would ever be available in the private sector, both those organisations would like you as members. It’s all about the business model and the income and, just as Neil Cocks had a whiteboard to do calculations about the income stream the BPB could anticipate if Council staff needed to be accredited, these people know where the money is as well.

If Craig really wanted you as members, to look after your interests rather than just to expand his own fiefdom to boast that it speaks for all certifiers, he should immediately extend an apology for his nonsensical assertions in the Telegraph.

And we will happily publish them. Come on Craig, being a big man isn’t always about stature. 

Newcastle’s general manager Phil Pearce has resigned, after eighteen months (but more importantly only four months after the September elections) and according to the Herald on 22 January, after “clashes with the lord mayor Jeff McCloy”. Having lampooned and lambasted the council and its staff and how they do things in election campaigning, new councillors then find out it’s not as easy as they thought.  Ignorance really is bliss.

Incoming councillors and mayors often have little idea about how local government works and that puts the general manager in the awkward and vulnerable position of keeping them away from the GM’s own responsibilities and the staff, and having to try to educate them about their obligations under the Local Government Act and to understand that sometimes the things that seemed capable of being done can’t be done once people understand how things really work. There are laws and obligations.

Camden was our December example of a general manager removed with nothing more than 38 weeks pay and no explanation and general managers are no different to other employees and should be able to expect fair treatment at work and procedural fairness in termination.

The GM is the most vulnerable employee because the GM is the only employee employed by the Council and the only employee directly accountable to the Council. This vulnerability and the need for proper protection of general managers (in what will inevitably be bigger and better resourced councils) are being dealt with by a number of the reviews currently investigating local government. In particular, the Standard Contracts for GM’s Working Party, the Local Government Acts Review and the Independent Review Panel. And it will be a hard issue for the 2036 flunkies to deal with as well as the Minister’s office.

depa has published a Position Paper on the employment of general managers to be fed into this process. It’s got all the history and the history will surprise many. We had our crack research people going through the archives for days. Here's a link.

Our special HR Awards edition in December announced Lismore Council as our 2012 winner. But we believe people can learn from their mistakes and everyone is entitled to redemption and we applaud the immediate intervention by the GM Gary Murphy to wrestle the latest mishandled issue from HR. He not only agreed to pay the back money claimed to be owed by our most recently aggrieved member, but he ensured that it was paid that day!

The immediate agreement was welcome, the concurrent payment was nothing short of astonishing given the resistance of the Council’s HR Manager to any money being paid by the end of 2012 and, in response to what I put as a joke about whether it would be possible by June 2013, she thought that would be possible. Durr.

Well done, Gary. Your involvement may be overdue but it is welcome and appreciated.

There are still a number of problems at Lismore which need to be resolved as part of this dispute. Councils can’t write letters of offer where they deliberately withhold information which might make the offer less attractive for a prospective employee to accept the position - like there is no progression available because the rate of pay being offered is the top of the scale! That’s dishonest.

Resolution of this dispute will see agreement on a pro forma letter of offer which identifies the band and level of the Award, the grade, step and progression range in the salary system and the end of this bizarre notion that the  Council can establish a TRP that allows them to withhold Award increases if paying the increase would put the job over the limit of the TRP. And things have been so bad with HR we want the review of HR (being carried out by HR themselves!) finalised quickly with external input and discussions with the unions.

depa’s Annual Union Picnic Day Golf Day will be held again this year at Blackheath Golf Course on Metropolitan Picnic Day - Friday 8 March.

We were rained out last year, and as the climate gradually changes we accept that there will be some risk with the weather, but we’re going ahead anyway.

The Picnic Day Golf Day started in 2004 and Blacktown, North Sydney, Penrith, Bankstown (twice) Lithgow, Leichhardt and Canterbury have all provided winning teams. Whether you can play golf or not is largely irrelevant because the team format favours those who like the idea of getting together on picnic day with other members of the union in a beautiful place for a good time.

Don’t forget Deepak Chopra’s advice that if you can play golf with the right attitude, you can live life with the right attitude.

Start 2013 with the right attitude with other depa members. Wendy in the office will be managing  this and if you would like a place you can contact her on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 9712 5255.

For those regular players, you know the routine, get your team together and let us know. Maximum of 18 teams, so get in quickly.

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