Source: Crime and Corruption Commission – Queensland
Following public comments about the Government’s decision to introduce legislation to remove the current Ipswich City Council, I have determined it is in the public interest to provide this statement to clarify the advice the CCC provided to the Minister.
The CCC’s investigation into Ipswich City Council remains ongoing. To date, 15 people have been charged with 79 criminal offences. Of the 15 people charged, seven are either current or former staff members or councillors. This includes two Mayors, two CEOs and a Chief Operating Officer. All of the criminal matters are currently before the courts and it is not appropriate to discuss the details publicly.
The investigation has identified significant governance failures and cultural issues that appear to have been occurring over many years. A number of these failures do not reach the threshold of corrupt conduct or the investigation to date has not identified sufficient evidence to pursue these criminally.
However, the investigation has confirmed these governance failures are significant and extremely concerning.
Many of the councillors and senior staff have held positions at the council for a long time. They may not have been aware of the extent of some practices but if they were operating in an environment in which transparency, accountability and good governance were paramount, many of the poor practices would not have continued.
Based on the investigation to date and the practices the CCC has uncovered, I do not have confidence the current council is equipped to change the culture and adequately address the systemic issues and this is what I have communicated to the Local Government Minister.
It is important to reinforce that the CCC has not consulted with the Minister or other Government representatives about who or when to charge individuals. These decisions are always made independently by the CCC based on evidence we collect from our own investigations.
The CCC’s independence is at the core of everything this agency does and the decisions we make.
I was subsequently informed by the Minister about the decision to remove the Council and the process by which the Government intended to do so. The Minister advised me of the decision to ensure it would have no adverse impact on our ongoing investigation into Ipswich City Council.
When I was informed of the decision to remove the Council, I told the Minister that I supported removing Ipswich City Council for the reasons explained in this statement.
The decision to remove the council and the legal process for this to occur is a matter for the Government, not the CCC.
The CCC is currently preparing a public report to discuss the cultural and systemic issues we have uncovered throughout the investigation and to provide practical recommendations which will prevent further corruption from occurring in the local government sector in Queensland.
The report will be finalised when the investigation is completed.
AJ MacSporran QC