Councillor of the City of Ipswich, Paul Tully addressing media at a press conference with regard to taking the state government to court.
Councillor of the City of Ipswich, Paul Tully addressing media at a press conference with regard to taking the state government to court. Cordell Richardson

Questions over Tully's use of non-official email

QUESTIONS have been raised over the state's longest serving councillor's use of a non-official email.

Ipswich councillor Paul Tully has used the email address IpswichCityCouncil@gmail.com, regarding council business.

The council has confirmed a search of its systems showed the address was not owned by Ipswich City Council and said the IT team had no knowledge of the account's existence.

Public servants have previously been advised against the use of unofficial email accounts for government business by the state's corruption watchdog as it presents a 'corruption risk'.

Cr Tully did not respond to questions put forward by the QT. 

Ipswich City Council is about to be dismissed amid a long running corruption investigation in which 15 people associated with the council have been charged by the Crime and Corruption Commission, including two mayors and two CEOs. 

Cr Tully is not facing any charges.

The CCC would not comment on the use of the email IpswichCityCouncil@gmail.com or whether the account had been included in the ongoing investigation.

"As the CCC investigation into Ipswich City Council remains ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment," a spokesperson said in response to all queries about the email address.

"Speaking in general terms, the CCC believes it is undesirable for any person in the public service to use private emails to conduct official business."

Cr Tully's use of a different private email, paulgtully@gmail.com, has already been highlighted.

Last year, a Fairfax Media Right To Information request revealed Ipswich City Council received 838 emails from Cr Tully's private Gmail account between February 26 and August 10, representing up to an estimated 3400 pages of documents.

Cr Tully is still using his paulgtully@gmail.com account for council-related business.

The use of non-official email accounts was also highlighted during the highly publicised investigation into Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey's use of the email mangocube6@yahoo.co.uk.

The investigation was finalised in June last year and while CCC found no evidence to support allegations of corrupt conduct, it took the opportunity to advise public servants on the use of private email addresses.

"The CCC considers the use of private email addresses by any Member of Parliament or public servant for official business lacks transparency and is a corruption risk," the CCC said in its statement regarding the investigation into Minister Bailey in June.

During Operation Belcarra, the CCC found Cr Tully's use of a bank account set up in 2008 to help a family devastated by a house to collect campaign donations at the 2016 elections "clearly inconsistent with the rules".

Cr Tully did not declare the three separate transactions, worth $6000, until after he received a preliminary copy of the Crime and Corruption Commission's draft report.

The report on the Operation Belcarra investigation states Cr Tully offered conflicting testimony when questioned on the use of the account at the hearings in April. 

No action was taken against Cr Tully.

Cr Tully has been acting as the face of the council as it stares down pending dismissal.

He, and the council, have taken aim at Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe, who will next month introduce legislation specifically to dismiss the embattled Ipswich councillors.



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