Council Accused Of Misusing $50 Million Through "Secretive" Project
Accusations of a misuse of funds and secretive projects hit Aussie Council.
Ipswich City Council is facing damning new claims it short-changed ratepayers through alleged dodgy deals and illegal businesses.
Councillors are also accused of using private jets on the public purse and spending tens of millions of dollars on projects which never saw the light of day.
Queensland’s Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe spoke about the fresh allegations at a press conference at Ipswich, where councillors and staff he is planning to sack, watched on.
“The quickest way to achieve that is to, as proposed by the government, the dismissal of the council and the installation of administrators to clear these matters up once and for all,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
In the scathing new claims, the state government has accused the council of misusing up to $50 million of ratepayer funds through a secretive development arm.
“There are grave concerns about accountability and transparency,” he told the media.
Councillors have been quick to defend allegations of fraud.
Long-term Ipswich City Councillor Paul Tully said he invites Mr Hinchliffe to refer the matter to the Crime and Corruption Commission.
“It’s likely he’ll be charged himself with making a false complaint,” Councillor Tully told Ten Eyewitness News.
He didn’t deny jet-setting jaunts though, explaining there was a trip to the US where he and other members of the council took a private jet.
“The advice was that that was cheaper given the cost of internal flights to hire a small plane,” Mr Tully said.
There's also claims the council tried to cover up its lavish spending by using high-priced lawyers to fight Right to Information requests.
Residents have been further angered by a vote to give the acting mayor Wayne Wendt a salary increase. At what could be the second last meeting before the Ipswich City Council is sacked, Cr Wendt accepted a salary to match suspended mayor Andrew Antoniolli’s pay packet- an extra $70,000 a year, taking his salary to $205,000 a year.
“It's been pointed out a number of times to me that I'm entitled to this as every person is in any workplace, particularly for an extended period,” Cr Wendt told Ten Eyewitness News.
But just how long it will remain their workplace is up in the air.