The Queensland Government has announced it will dissolve Ipswich City Council and appoint a temporary administration in light of the widening corruption scandal.
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe confirmed the move in Parliament on Thursday morning, a day after Mayor Andrew Antoniolli was charged with seven counts of fraud by the Crime and Corruption Commission.
Members of the Council will also be asked to show cause as to why they should not be dismissed.
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“The government has not taken this decision likely. However, I have reached the conclusion that the Ipswich City Council can no longer function effectively,” Mr Hinchliffe told Parliament.
“When a community loses faith in its elected leaders, as is the case in Ipswich, it’s time to act.
“The situation in Ipswich we see today is of the gravest concern.
“The people of Ipswich are shocked by what has happened. Some are angry, many are outraged and others are quite frankly appalled at what they perceive as the repeated breaches of trust from their elected representatives.
“The impacts we’ve already seen are devastating, on the moral of council staff, including on the personal well-being of individuals and on council’s ability to deliver good policy outcomes and on the Ipswich community as a whole.”
Minister Hinchliffe admitted it was a big decision.
“I appreciate this course of action will impact councillors who were only recently elected. However, I believe this course of action is necessary to restore public confidence in the Ipswich City Council,” he concluded.
It all comes after the Ipswich City Council released a statement confirming Mayor would stand down until court matters are resolved.
“Following statements from the Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and LGAQ president Greg Hallam late yesterday afternoon, Andrew Antoniolli has decided to stand down from his duties as Mayor of Ipswich until such time as court matters are resolved,” the statement read.
“Cr Antoniolli said this was in the best interest of the city and his family.”
It’s the latest in a string of scandals for the Council, with former Mayor Paul Pisasale slapped with fraud, corruption and misconduct charges last year.
Long-time former CEO Carl Wulff was also charged with corruption while his successor, Jim Lindsay, was stood down in January after being charged in September.
Former chief operating officer Craig Maudsley is among other council figures investigated by the Crime and Corruption Commission.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also expressed her concerns about the situation in Parliament this morning.
“There are too many charges levelled at too many officials for anyone to have confidence in the management of Ipswich City Council,” the Premier said.
“Enough is enough.”
“This will stop. I am stopping it. The people of Ipswich deserve better.”