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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Local Government, Minister for Racing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
    The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe

    Secret report bolsters case to dismiss embattled Ipswich City Council

    Minister for Local Government, Minister for Racing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
    The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe

    Tuesday, July 24, 2018

    Secret report bolsters case to dismiss embattled Ipswich City Council

    Disturbing revelations including multiple alleged breaches of the Corporations Act, potential fraud and off-market land transactions at Ipswich City Council-owned entities have bolstered the case to dismiss the embattled Council.

    Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the new revelations - contained in three reports prepared by advisory firm McGrathNicol - reveal a culture of secrecy, entitlement and a lack of accountability at Ipswich City Council.

    “For too long, Ipswich City Council-owned entities have been acting as a law unto themselves,” he said.

    “Until recently, these entities have been run on a whim by Councillors and Council officials, without the best practice of oversight from independent directors.

    “This led to questionable transactions and dud deals which have saddled Ipswich ratepayers with massive costs, while generating next-to-nothing in return.

    “Ipswich City Properties (ICP) incurred losses of up to $50 million – all ratepayers’ funds - on an Ipswich CBD redevelopment that never eventuated.

    “ICP officials, including Councillors and staff, also enjoyed an all-expenses-paid trip to the United States in 2010, including specially chartered flights on private jets.

    “Italy, France, the UK and Abu Dhabi were other travel destinations for Councillors and staff.

    “Council even wasted more than $83,000 of ratepayers’ funds on high-priced lawyers to conceal the cost of these jaunts, following Right to Information requests from a media outlet."

    Mr Hinchliffe said in a litany of governance failures, Ipswich City Council-owned entities also:

    - sold large tracts of commercial and residential land without testing the market;

    - made inappropriate donations to a large and wealthy private school;

    - failed to lodge audited financial statements and prepare a director’s report;

    - failed to sign off on board minutes, putting their decisions in doubt; and

    - allowed officers of the controlled entities to sign off on their own travel costs.

    “These entities are 100 per cent owned by ratepayers, and Council has an obligation to ensure they’re delivering for ratepayers,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

    “But it appears these entities achieved virtually nothing and were set up for the sole purpose of getting around the probity requirements of the Local Government Act.

    “Up until very recently, none of these entities had any independent board directors.

    “The board positions were shared almost exclusively between four individuals – all either current or former Councillors and Council officials.

    “This is yet more evidence that Ipswich City Council is a closed shop.

    “The privileged few have been allowed to behave as they pleased, without proper oversight and hidden by a veil of secrecy.

    “I’m determined to lift the veil of secrecy and restore transparency and accountability to these ratepayer-owned entities.

    “Now more than ever, the people of Ipswich need confidence in their civic institutions, and that’s what we’re going to deliver.”

    Media contact: Martin Philip 0427 919 548