• 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

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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...

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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