New mayor has no issue working with sacked councillors
IPSWICH'S new mayor said she has "no problem" working with sacked councillors as she embarks on giving Ipswich a "fresh start" after more than 18 months in administration.
Ms Harding was a convincing winner in the mayoral race and built her campaign on a plan to shine a light on the mistakes made by the previous council dismissed in 2018.
She intends to open up the books on the previous council's operation of privately operated companies.
Former councillors Sheila Ireland and Paul Tully are set to return to office in Division 1 and Division 2 seats respectively.
Ipswich City Properties, which left residents with a debt of $78 million, recently went into voluntary liquidation.
Its board was occupied by former councillors Paul Pisasale, Andrew Antoniolli, Wayne Wendt and Mr Tully and council staff Jim Lindsay, Andrew Roach and Daniel Best over its lifetime.
"(Voluntary liquidation) doesn't stop us from wanting to publish all the financial and other documents," she said.
"I was voted in with a clear majority and the first item on the action plan … was we would publish all the findings and all the transactions in those five Ipswich City Council entities.
"It's very important we publish all those documents. People want to know.
"I think it's part of our healing process, we publish them and then we move on."
She said she was taking advice about whether those responsible could still be pursued.
"I do know that concerned members of the community have asked the (Crime and Corruption Commission) and (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) about that," she said.
"It's my understanding from that, it's basically a loophole (to avoid persecution), which is why those entities were created this way.
"So no one was basically accountable."
The mayor-elect said she has no issue working with Mr Tully.
"He's been democratically elected by the people of Ipswich," she said.
"I've known Paul for many years, I have no problem working with him.
"We've been in contact quite a bit in the last few days, just talking about the timings of swearing in and some of the admin for the first meeting.
"I think we'll both be very professional."
Ms Harding, the first female mayor in Ipswich's 160-year history, said she needed her council team to be in the right "headspace" to lead the city during unprecedented times.
"We've got some really big decisions around the CBD redevelopment, some big cases and I really need the council to be really focused … to read those proposals well and have intelligent conversations," she said.
"We also want to communicate that with the public so we need to have that time as well to consult with the community about some of the decisions we're making."
She has been in regular contact with the presidents of the chambers of commerce in Ipswich and Greater Springfield.
Ms Harding has asked the council's CEO David Farmer whether her ten point economic plan in response to the COVID-19 can be implemented.
"The main focus is community health," she said.
"The second thing is that we keep jobs."