• 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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IRC puts brakes on belligerent seven – depaNews June 2009

Hardly the Magnificent Seven – June 2009

Commission puts brakes on the Belligerent Seven

Who would have thought that out of 152 councils, the first to leap into an argument with their managers and Senior Staff about the cost of their superannuation would be this lot:

Great Lakes Council

Lake Macquarie City Council


The Council of the Municipality of Kiama

The Hills Shire (nee Baulkham Hills)



But, in the Industrial Relations Commission this morning, Justice Staff recommended that those seven councils not proceed to collect increased superannuation from affected employees (see May depaNews) until proceedings in the Commission had resolved the issue. There may be an eighth, with some doubt about how Pittwater is responding to our letters. We'll see.

These proceedings arose from a dispute depa filed with 83 councils over whether or not the Council would pay the increased "compulsory employer contributions" from 1 July for employees who are members of the LGSS Defined Benefits Scheme and who are employed on contracts with a TRP. When the dispute was filed on 20 May, there were six councils refusing to pay and 77 councils which had not responded to letters from depa dated 1 April and 5 May.

Between the date of filing and the proceedings this morning, Waverley was removed from the list of six refusing to pay (they're still wondering what to do) and Great Lakes and Lake Macquarie were added. And of the 77 councils which had failed to respond, we were now down to 49. That is the least, some progress.

depa was supported this morning in the Commission by the LGEA (Martin O'Connell had also attended our meetings with the LGSA on 12 March and 5 May trying to properly manage this issue) and the USU. We appreciate their support.

But first, what's this all about?

This is as a dispute arising from an increase in the compulsory employer contribution in the Defined Benefits Scheme of the LGSS. The collapse in financial markets has meant that all defined benefit schemes are now in deficit and employers are being urged by superannuation regulators to address the deficiency as quickly as possible.

Yes, that's right, this is a dispute generally with the highest paid employees in the industry. Who said unions were only relevant lower in the organisation? And what sort of employer wants to pick a fight with their directors and managers? Leaving aside whether they can legally make employees pay, what sense is there from a human resources perspective, in irritating those most critical to an organisation's delivery of services?

There are two critical and simple issues here:

1 If an employee is not on a contract, then there is no argument about who will pay. It will be the employer.

2 Employees on contracts are employed on contracts solely because of a decision by the Council or, in the case of Senior Staff under the Local Government Act, the Act itself.

To resolve the issue, councils should simply treat these employees like everyone else.

And 49 councils will do that and have agreed to pay

Here are the 49 councils which have already agreed to do the right thing:


Kyogle Council

Bega Valley


Blacktown City Council

Liverpool Plains Shire Council

Blayney Shire Council


Bourke Shire Council

Marrickville Council

Broken Hill


Camden Council

Nambucca Shire Council


Narrandera Shire Council


North Sydney Council



Council of the City of Sydney

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council

Cowra Shire Council




Dungog Shire Council

Sutherland Shire Council

Fairfield City Council

Tamworth Regional Council

Gloucester Shire Council

Tumut Shire Council



Goulburn Mulwaree Council

Upper Lachlan Shire Council

Greater Hume

Walcha Council

Gundagai Shire Council


Harden Shire Council

Willoughby City Council


Wingecarribee Shire Council





Kempsey Shire Council


Kogarah Municipal Council


Ku-ring-gai Council



In an exhibit handed up in the Commission this morning, these 49 councils were identified as agreeing to pay the increased compulsory employer contribution. At the very least, this is a persuasive argument for those seven councils refusing to pay to review their anti-employee attitude and the Commission accepted depa’s submission that it was sufficient of a developing majority opinion to put a hold on those councils which would defy it.

So, the Commission recommended that they not proceed pending further hearings to settle the dispute. This will take some pressure off the employees affected and also focus the attention of those councils on whether they can, or cannot, try to extract the additional increase from the salary cash component of their employees’ packages.

13 councils are currently taking advice

These councils are:


Cooma-Monaro Shire Council

Auburn Council

Forbes Shire Council

Ballina Shire Council

Lismore City Council

Bankstown City Council

Murray Shire Council


Singleton Shire Council

Blue Mountains

Woollahra Municipal Council

City of Lithgow Council



34 councils say they are not affected (but are they really?)

The following councils claim that they are not affected. They say they do not have employees who are members of the Defined Benefit Scheme who are employed on contracts or other arrangements which include a TRP.

Berrigan Shire Council

Narrabri Shire Council

Bland Shire Council


Bombala Council

Palerang Council

Boorowa Council

Pittwater Council


Port Stephens Council

Central Darling Shire Council

Randwick City Council

City of Canada Bay Council

Snowy River Shire Council

Cobar Shire Council

Temora Shire Council

Cootamundra Shire Council

Tenterfield Shire Council




Warrumbungle Shire Council

Glen Innes Severn Council


Griffith City Council

Weddin Shire Council


Wentworth Shire Council

Hurstville City Council


Lachlan Shire Council


Lane Cove


Lockhart Shire Council



We are prepared to accept that these councils are acting in good faith when they advise us that they are not affected, but just to be sure, if you work at any of these councils and are on a contract or contractual arrangement with a TRP, can you please let us know?

Please note also here that depa has filed a dispute asking for a response from all councils about "employees" generally, not just depa members. So, if you are not a member but are affected, let us know. People who are eligible to be members but are not members yet are all potential members.

What happens next?

The Commission made three recommendations. They will shortly be available officially but, in summary and from the best of our notes, they were:

1 That the (forty nine) councils yet to respond to depa’s letters of 1 April and 5 May, do so by 5pm on Friday 5 June.

2 That the (seven) councils which propose not to pay the increased compulsory employer contribution reply by 5pm on Friday 5 June and indicate which of the four categories in depa’s letter of 1 April the affected employees fall into.

3 The Commission “urges” that any decision by the seven councils to deduct from employees salaries be not implemented until further assistance is provided by the Commission.

Proceedings were adjourned for a report back before Justice Staff at 11am on Wednesday 10 June.

What happens next?

The LGSA and the unions are planning to meet with the Belligerent Seven (and possibly Pittwater) next week. At that meeting we can examine why the councils believe they can extract the increase in the compulsory employer contribution from an employee’s salary component. We can also deal with any of the 49 councils which are yet to respond, or the 13 councils which are taking advice, if they decide to try to gouge these increases from employees.

In the meantime, we need to know if the councils which claim to not be affected are really not affected and we need advice from members (and people who aren't members) at the Belligerent Seven so we can check the four categories of employees.

Robbo's Pearls...

Farewell Ernie, thanks for everything

Ernie Page 18 February 1935 - 20 May 2018

Ernie Page was a comrade to me and depa and a friend of local government.  He was a community activist before the expression was invented, a councillor on Waverley Council for 15 years from 1962 to 1987 and Mayor for nine of those years, a member of the New South Wales Parliament representing the seat of Waverley from 1981 until 1991 when it was abolished, and then three more terms as member for Coogee.

Ernie was a lifelong member of the ALP, was active in his union the USU and was awarded life membership in recognition, was the Shadow Minister for Local Government for what seemed like forever and the Minister for Local Government from 1995 to 1999.  It was during this time he entrenched his position as a friend of depa, organised drinks in Parliament House for a freshly elected Committee of Management, regularly attended depa events, was always available for advice, assistance and to be lobbied, and was responsible as Minister for Local Government for establishing a consultative mechanism between Government and the local government unions and in the Five Year Review of the Local Government Act in 1998 recommended the removal of term contracts for senior staff - sadly, like some of Ernie’s best ideas, killed off by the conservatives in the Parliamentary Party and the Cabinet Office.

Ernie believed in and loved local government.  He knew how it worked, where it was deficient, where it should improve and what should be done to improve it.  And while appointed by Bob Carr as Minister in 1995, he was also removed by Carr in 1999 in one of his worst decisions. Ernie was furious and disappointed, privileging me to a call containing more C words than I thought humanly possible, and unchallenged by anything I’ve seen or heard before or after.
Thanks, Ernie.  At a time when we have little respect for our politicians, either State or in local government, that we don’t have more people devoting their working lives as assiduously, selflessly and honourably, as you did.

Mark Gollins
Well said Robbo. As a former both long term local resident and employee of Waverley Council I am saddened to learn of Ernie's passing. They don't make politicans like Ernie anymore. Always available to give advice or offer assistance, he was a man who worked tirelessly, openly and fairly not just for the local residents, but for the people of NSW.
My condolences to Ernie's family and friends

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