Plea to Queen Elizabeth to save Ipswich's councillors
AN IPSWICH councillor has acknowledged he watched colleagues "blow off steam" at staff but believed it was up to the mayor or chief executive officer to call out the behaviour.
The long-awaited report by the Crime and Corruption Commission, handed down on Tuesday afternoon, contained allegations councillors had harassed and threatened to "ruin the careers" of staff who were concerned about corrupt behaviour.
A 22-month investigation, titled Operation Windage, noted there was an environment where "inappropriate or potentially corrupt conduct was either no longer recognised as such or not reported".
Division One Councillor David Morrison, who was elected in 2000, admitted he had seen incidents of colleagues abusing council staff.
"Sometimes you might be in a meeting.. someone speaks as if they're blowing a bit of steam, being abusive to staff," he said.
"You'd have to talk to an individual councillor about that."
Cr Morrison said he "always treated staff with utmost respect" but said he did not personally call out the behaviour, and was unaware if others did.
"If it happens it's the CEO or the mayor's responsibility... role, to pull that officer or councillor aside and say that's no way to speak or deal with people," Cr Morrison said.
He said he was not aware of what other councillors were doing.
Cr Morrison has written to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey to plead the case for councillors.
The councillor called on them to evaluate the government's Bill
A secretary for the Governor thanked Cr Morrison for his correspondence while the Queen has not responded.
Councillor David Martin said he had reported four incidents of bullying within nine months to the CEO, mayor and acting mayor.
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said he would look closely at the CCC's recommendation to allow greater scrutiny of council companies.
"The issue of beneficial entities or controlled entities, they are issues I've been looking at for some time," he said.
Mr Hinchliffe said the CCC had interviewed hundreds of staff members and other people in Ipswich City Council about their views of the culture.
"The most disturbing things in the report were those areas where council staff, generally lower-level council staff, were the subject of bullying, subject of intimidation and put into a situation where they feared speaking out," he said.
"That's one of the key reasons we needed to act."
Paul Tully described the CCC investigation as a "witch-hunt", and said he was not aware of bullying of staff.
Sheila Ireland said she was unaware of the matters listed by the Crime and Corruption Commission in its report and allegations against her colleagues or council executives.
"I don't know how we would have," she said.
"Nobody has ever said anything to me.
"We rely on the officers to tell us what's not working.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the saga needed to end for the people of Ipswich.
"To think that 15 people are facing 86 serious charges is shocking," she said.
"It is shocking to think that the people of Ipswich have had to suffer through this since at least May this year.
"We will be supporting the legislation to make sure the right thing is being done by the people of Ipswich."