• 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.

Debate on IR policy – depaNews August 2007

IR policy...the simple explanatory booklet cartoon – August 2007

New depths plumbed in unsophisticated debate on industrial relations policy

As the election gets closer, debate on industrial relations policy taps new depths. How else do you explain the Government’s fascination with the hoary old concept of "union bosses"? Sydney Morning Herald cartoonist Moir got it right in the cartoon that leads this Bulletin.

Whether the Government is tapping into recent market research or polling in the community showing an increasing mistrust and anxiety about trade unions and those elected to lead them, or whether this is simply their politics and hatred showing, there is a simple truism discovered when market researchers ask people about unions. And it is this:

While union members might be sceptical about the way other unions behave, and the way officials of other unions might be perceived, they never really feel like that about their own union. People have a different connection with their union to other peoples’ unions. That's why you find a specific attachment that is not reflected as a general view to all unions. It's also hard to look at the charming, benign and pleasant members of depa’s Committee of Management in the context of the Howard Government’s demonising of thuggish and boorish union bosses. Cripes, everyone’s elected and elected officials reflect the membership - just like in other unions.

And while union coverage has been declining over the last decade or so (although there has been a resurgence accompanying the anxiety about Workchoices) in industries like local government and the public sector, there has been no decline.

We make no apologies for supporting a system that allows us to negotiate a new Local Government (State) Award every few years or so. We did that with the other unions in the industry in negotiation with the employers represented by the Local Government Association and Shires Association. The system that allowed us to do that also allowed us to manage industrial disputes and minimise industrial action. It's hard to find anything wrong with that and it has worked like that for more than a hundred years.

In February we said in our Bulletin to members:

Living with WorkChoices: full steam into the fog. Nothing clear about councils and WorkChoices.

The High Court didn't clarify whether councils are constitutional corporations. That is an argument yet to be had in some court somewhere else. In the meantime, some councils have been happy to sign Referral Agreements with the local government unions and keep the management of industrial disputes and unfair dismissal applications operating in the New South Wales Industrial Relations system. Others have hedged their bets, asserting that they are a constitutional Corporation and therefore all will start "taking advantage" of the (nasty) options available in the Federal Legislation.

90 councils have already signed Referral Agreements. This removes the question of whether they are constitutional corporations or not because, regardless of this issue, they have agreed to continue with the well-managed arrangements of the past and have their industrial relations managed in the State system.

In case there is any doubt, and in case your council has not yet signed a Referral Agreement, we think everyone should.

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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