1. WHY YOUR COUNCIL WAS PLACED UNDER ADMINISTRATION
On Wednesday 22 August 2018, the Parliament of Queensland passed the Local Government (Dissolution of Ipswich City Council) Act 2018 , dismissing the mayor and 10 councillors of Ipswich City Council. Greg Chemello was consequently appointed by the state government as Interim Administrator of Ipswich City Council under section 5 of that Act. An Interim Administrator has “all the responsibilities and powers of the local government and the mayor” (under 124(2) of the Local Government Act 2009) . This meant a responsibility to act in the best long-term interests of the residents and ratepayers of the city. That principle has guided every decision made by the Interim Administrator over the past 16 months. Council’s dismissal was brought about because of the many governance failures noted in the Crime and Corruption Commission’s (CCC) Operation Windage report into culture and corruption risks at Ipswich City Council. The report identified a wide spectrum of serious governance and integrity failures including suspected official corruption, improper use of power and influence for personal benefit, a lack of accountability for public resources, inappropriate relationships between the council and the private sector (particularly property developers and contractors), a failure to keep a fraud risk register, failure to record gifts and benefits received in the council’s gifts and benefits register, and senior members of council influencing decision-making processes to benefit close associates. To better understand why Ipswich City Council was placed in interim administration, residents and ratepayers should read the CCC’s Operation Windage report. It explains why the city was placed in this unusual position.
At the public hearing into the then-proposed dissolution of your council, the CCC chairperson Mr Alan MacSporran QC said: “There has been a collapse of public confidence in that council and those councillors. That is what is being addressed here. It is not about them individually being guilty of misconduct or otherwise. It is about systemic failures collectively of good governance, and a lack of transparency and accountability across-the-board. They stand or fall, as they must, under the Local Government Act and the Constitution of Queensland as the body, the entity, collectively responsible for the good governance of that community. There has been a failure of that.” The goal of your council under administration was to build a better council; to deliver processes for good governance. Governance - the issue at the core of this sequence of events - is the process and culture that guides the activities of an organisation beyond its basic legal obligations. It was not just about making the right decisions, but also about creating the best possible process for making those decisions. Good decision-making processes, and therefore good governance, have implications for multiple aspects of local government, including consultation policies and practices, meeting procedures, service quality protocols, councillor and officer conduct, role clarification and good working relationships. The Interim Administrator’s role has been to always act in the best long-term interests of residents and ratepayers, and in doing so prepare the council and the city for a return to elected representation at the March 2020 local government elections. SUPPORTING LINK: Ccc.qld.gov.au/corruption/outcome/allegations- corruption-related-ipswich-city-council- operation-windage