CCC take bike from mayor, memorabilia items audited
THE Crime and Corruption Commission has taken possession of a bicycle as the Ipswich City Council moved to audit several memorabilia items acquired and kept in storage by Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli.
The QT can reveal that mid-last week the council's officers scrambled to audit and "properly collate and record" about one dozen items acquired by Cr Antoniolli and stored at his old division seven office.
Items were purchased over several years, using his own and ratepayers' money, prior to his election as mayor.
He acknowledged some items purchased using the council's funds had not been properly recorded - including a bicycle, worth about $500.
"I can put my hand on heart and say they've always been council property," he said.
"I have never considered it to be personal property."
Cr Antoniolli said the bicycle was "never used", but would not reveal the reason for the purchase or where it had been kept.
The bike is now in the possession of the CCC.
Cr Antoniolli claimed he had repeatedly requested within the past two years for the council's officers to attend and conduct a "physical audit" of the memorabilia items in his possession, but said no response was ever received and a full list of items never collated.
"I felt it was just poor administration and transparency," he said.
"I wanted it properly stored and recorded in a secure place.
"For whatever reason, council hadn't been diligent enough."
He said under the leadership of former mayor Paul Pisasale, it was not uncommon for councillors to bid for items in charity raffles using ratepayer funds.
What items were then used personally by councillors has been difficult to understand.
Cr Antoliolli acknowledged the process of using council funds and purchasing memorabilia items for office fitouts did not pass the pub test.
"I have been part of the problem," he said.
"Once I became mayor I drew a line and said no more of it.
"A lot of us felt we were doing the right thing by helping our community groups."
There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Cr Antoniolli.
The governance review recommended a change to the council's community donations policy, which Cr Antoniolli said the council was working through.
The mayor could not say what avenues he used to make several requests for a council audit into his memorabilia and items, but said they were likely to have been verbally made.
"I can't remember if it was in writing," he said.
It comes as the CCC seems to be again narrowing into the Ipswich City Council, with two people charged within the past month.
The QT understands CCC officers were again at the council's Roderick St administration centre late last week.
But Cr Antoniolli denied the council's audit of his stored property was undertaken due to the actions of the CCC.
"The CCC is conducting an investigation into all councillor offices in relation to it (property)," he said.