Another chapter ends in sorry few years for Ipswich
THE biggest story to come out of the courts this week was the not guilty verdict for former Ipswich City Council officers Ben Hayward and Craig Maudsley.
Both were charged with official misconduct in relation to Ipswich City Council’s sponsorship of the Legends of League event in 2017.
As reported, Judge Brad Farr ordered jurors to find Mr Hayward not guilty, while later on Wednesday afternoon, the jury deliberated for less than two hours before also finding Mr Maudsley not guilty.
It ends another chapter in a miserable time for the council over the past three years and, similar to the Andrew Antoniolli case, it has ended with the accused being cleared.
It is important at this point to note that part of the state government’s justification for sacking Ipswich City Council was the sheer number of individuals charged with offences. We were told this painted a picture of what was going on in the council.
With two of those individuals now found not guilty and another cleared on appeal, it appears the state government’s case for putting Ipswich into administration is not as strong as we first thought.
That is not to assume there were not some inherent problems within the council that didn’t need to be addressed.
There was also the matter of the various council-owned entities that had to be wound up during the administration process.
I do still wonder if Andrew Antoniolli’s successful appeal on fraud charges, along with this week’s not guilty verdicts, will cast doubt in people’s minds over the decision to take such drastic action.
None of the councillors who were ultimately sacked were accused of any misconduct. That’s important to remember, because in being sacked they were all tarred with the same brush at the time the city was going through all this upheaval.
Of those council figures convicted, Paul Pisasale infamously resigned as mayor on the eve of his charges being brought to light, while Carl Wulff was no longer CEO at the time he was charged.
Former CEO Jim Lindsay, despite being charged with official corruption by the CCC in 2017 – allegations he will defend – is yet to have his trial date locked in.
A Pre-trial hearing is set at Brisbane District Court for June 25.
We now keenly await news on this case.
What have they done to my game?
If you are a proud Queenslander then you may have come away from watching Wednesday’s Origin opener feeling a little bit like I did.
Despite being a lifelong watcher of rugby league, I cannot help but feel lost when I watch the game these days.
Just when you think the powers that be cannot possibly shoot themselves in the foot anymore with rule changes, they throw the book in the bin and start again with more adaptations that you can only assume are designed to speed up and clean up the game.
I have never been more confused watching what used to be a pretty simple game.
I cannot say I like this idea of playing on after a penalty in the ruck, and I certainly do not like this apparent crackdown on tackles that are up around the top of the chest.
The pure physicality of rugby league was one of its major drawing points and it seems those in charge are willing to compromise that somewhat in order to try to give the game broader appeal.
The net result is more of a bland, safe, sanitised game. Proper rugby league fans don’t want that.
Not that the Maroons can blame any of this for getting flogged on Wednesday. The lads need to go away and have a good look at themselves after what happened in Townsville because they didn’t show a lot of ticker.
Here’s hoping they find that famous Queensland spirit in game 2.
Speaking of showing a lot of ticker in Origin, I was lucky enough to speak to one of my childhood heroes this week.
Dale Shearer had a very close Ipswich connection through his life, not only through his own association in playing for Norths and living here for a while, but also through is late dad Bob, who was a much-loved teacher at various Ipswich schools.
It was great chatting to Dale about his memories of Ipswich, and also about his dad, who happened to be my deputy principal at Raceview State School around 1989-91, and was in equal parts feared and respected by us kids at the time.
I remember how great it was to have Bob come down to watch us play mini-league and give us little hints and tips on passing and tackling.
‘Rowdy’ was in town for a screening of the first game at Limelight, and prior to the game he correctly stated that the Blues were the favourites.
What he didn’t predict was that the Blues would win in such a blowout.
As a bloke who was famous for running through brick walls while wearing that famous maroon jersey, I’m sure he would have been as disappointed as the rest of us in that performance by Queensland.
There was some encouraging progress in the CBD this week, with work to restore the 111-year-old Commercial Hotel complete.
The building, also known as Murphy’s Town Pub, was bought by council-controlled entity Ipswich City Properties in 2014 and was identified as unsafe for occupancy in 2015.
What has followed has been a painstakingly long and expensive effort to get it back up to scratch.
Here is hoping that $6.2 million investment has been worthwhile and we see that place pumping again some time in the very near future.
Speaking of the CBD, there was another important development on a tired old building this week.
Unfortunately there will be no saving the former Ipswich transit centre, which has not been used since the 2011 floods made it look more like a ferry terminal than a bus stop.
The call has been made to knock the old girl down, and from what I can tell, there were few other options.
That area of town will flood again one day – it is a matter of time – so whatever goes there next will have to be flood resilient.
Putting another building there of any kind that cannot stand up to filthy flood waters would be like flushing money down the toilet.