Paul Tully mulling political comeback
PAUL Tully has opened up for the first time about life following his sacking as an Ipswich councillor, as he weighs up a return to local politics.
The Sunday Mail can reveal the former councillor of 39 years - the longest in the city's history - is mulling a political comeback at the 2020 local government elections.
In an extensive interview, Mr Tully has insisted there was no way he or his former councillor colleagues could have known about the scandals that had festered through Ipswich City Council ahead of its dismissal in 2018. Mr Tully, who was among the 10 councillors dismissed when the Palaszczuk Government sacked the Council in August last year, believes he and his colleagues were punished for "the deeds of others".
He said on the "face of it", there was nothing to suggest any ongoing wrongdoing at the council, despite a recent Crime and Corruption Commission probe resulting in 15 people associated with the council being charged with dozens of offences.
"You can work in a workplace for years with people, and you don't know they're … involved in some sort of criminal activity simply because people don't disclose that," he said. "In the past 15 years, the state auditor general has audited the council, internal auditors have audited all parts of the council - no suggestions of any systemic wrongdoing have come out during those audits."
Since an administrator was appointed last year, several people associated with the council have been convicted, including former Council CEO Carl Wulff, who was sentenced to five years' prison, suspended after 20 months, after he was found guilty of pocketing $241,000 in bribes from council contractors.
Former Mayor Andrew Antoniolli was found guilty of 13 fraud-related charges and received a six-month suspended sentence, while another former Mayor, Paul Pisasale, was convicted on two counts of extortion in June and sentenced to two years prison, to be suspended after 12 months.
Mr Tully said he was "extremely disappointed" with Mr Wulff's behaviour.
While he has ruled out his own run for mayor, Mr Tully, who is in mid 60s, says there is still a part of him that wants to "fight the good fight" and make a return as a local councillor - but he admits he is still torn.
"Some days I want to get back in there … and I want to finish what I was doing for my local community," he said.
"Other days I say, stuff it, do I really want to go back to it."
He now spends more time with his two sons and wife Liza, also tending to his honey and native bee hives and writing a book about Jack the Ripper - something he says he has been an interest in for a long time.
Mr Tully said it was good to take the break he was unable to have in his nearly 40 year career as a councillor.
"You'd never get a break," he said. "But now I've had the time to spend more time with my family, my boys.
"I've had the break that I should've had before."
Although he doesn't want to become mayor himself, Mr Tully called on former Premier Peter Beattie to make a run for the city's top job.
"He'd have to come and live in Ipswich, but I reckon he'd be a person who would be pretty well respected," he said.