Ipswich Council has made a final submission to Queensland’s Minister for Local Government against the entire council being stood down, saying it is poor governance to sack “entirely innocent” persons.
The submissions come after Minister Stirling Hinchliffe gave the council a 21-day show cause notice to put forward its case against being sacked.
Both individual councillors and the entire council have made submissions to the minister.
It caps off a dramatic week in local government in the state that saw the Queensland Government suspend four mayors and a councilor.
Logan Mayor Luke Smith, Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli, Doomadgee Mayor Edric Walden, Hope Vale Mayor Greg McLean and Logan councillor Stacey McIntosh were all suspended by Minister Stirling on Monday after passing new legislation last week permitting the automatic suspension of councilors facing serious charges.
Ipswich’s response to the minister’s show cause notice, which was filed yesterday by acting Ipswich Mayor Wayne Wendt, questions how councillors who have not been charged can be seen to be “breaching local government principles.”
It also argues that it is poor governance to sack “entirely innocent” people and point to the importance of maintaining delivery of council functions, including the Smart City projects and economic negotiations.
Charges ‘unrelated’ to council, says Mayor
Clr Wendt said the submission, made on behalf of all councillors, pointed out that all charges or allegations against staff or previous mayors were the result of complex investigations by police and many are “totally unrelated to local government, the council or the councillors.”
“The removal of innocent and democratically elected officials from their positions is not the right move,” Cr Wendt said.
The submission argues:
“No individual has entered a plea to any charge, no statements have been provided, no indictments have been presented, no trials have been conducted and no jury, properly instructed by a judge, has yet to reach a verdict whether the prosecution had proved a case beyond reasonable doubt.”
Cr Wendt pointed to a statement made by Minister Hinchliffe in parliament that the measures “are not about catching out honest councillors, or those who make genuine mistakes. They are about those councillors who do not live up to community expectations; those who intentionally flout the laws of Queensland.”
Minister Hinchliffe yesterday acknowledged receipt of “comprehensive” submission from Ipswich, which he said included letters from the acting Mayor and Ipswich councillors, as well as from the acting CEO and appointed CEO.
“I would like to thank council for its careful consideration of the matters raised,” he said. “I give my commitment to Ipswich City Council and the people of Ipswich that I will give the submission, and all the materials before me, the close attention they deserve,” he said.
Minister Hinchliff said he will respond within seven and 28 days.