Ipswich council's extra cover for staff court costs

THREE months before former mayor Paul Pisasale was charged by the state's corruption watchdog, Ipswich councillors unanimously voted to introduce an additional funding stream to cover court costs for council employees.

The policy created last year is now being accessed by five people, the council says, although it would not provide any names.

In February 2017, Ipswich City Councillors approved the establishment of the 'Legal Assistance Policy', separate from its insurance policy held with the LGM via the Local Government of Queensland Association.

Most Queensland councils rely on the LGM insurance policy to cover employees should any court action arise from dealings in their role working for the council.

The policy was introduced three months before former mayor Paul Pisasale was charged by the state's corruption watchdog.

The board meeting where the policy's introduction was discussed was closed to the public.

Prior to October 2017, written agendas for committee meetings where the policy would have been detailed, were not publicly available.

Agendas prior to October 2017 are not published on the council's website, although the policy itself is published online.

Under the Legal Assistance Policy, the council agrees to "provide financial assistance to meet the cost of obtaining the legal representation", in some circumstances.

"The council recognises that employees and councillors, as a result of their council roles, functions and duties may at times require legal representation," the policy states. 

"The payment of the legal representation costs of an employee or councillor which is necessary and arises from the performance in good faith of their council role, duties and functions, should also lie with the council.

"Accordingly, the council has adopted this policy to explain when the council will fund or partly fund the cost of providing relevant legal representation to employees and councillors."

Under the policy, the CEO is responsible for approving applications to access the funding.

In the instance that the CEO applies for access the mayor must approve access to funding.

The council's general meeting for the month of February 2017 shows former CEO Jim Lindsay and former mayor Paul Pisasale both excused themselves from voting, citing a potential conflict of interest.

The potential conflict of interest for both men was that they "may have a claim under the proposed policy".

All councillors were present for the meeting.

The motion was seconded by Councillor Andrew Antoniolli with "the majority of councillors entitled to vote, voting for the recommendation," the meeting agenda reads.

The motion was carried.

It has previously been confirmed that Mr Lindsay's defamation suit against Gary Duffy was being covered under the Legal Assistance Policy.

The council previously said that funding ceased after Mr Lindsay was charged by the Crime and Corruption Commission.

Mr Pisasale also has an active defamation case against Mr Duffy.

The QT has put additional questions to the council, regarding the policy.

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