New Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding in Ipswich. Photo: Glenn Hunt / The Australian
New Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding in Ipswich. Photo: Glenn Hunt / The Australian

Revealed: Where council’s millions have been spent

IPSWICH residents can now access Ipswich City Council's financial information at the click of a button, as a new platform reveals how millions of dollars of ratepayers money has been spent over the years.

The Transparency and Integrity Hub went live last night and is the first of its kind for local government in Australia.

The hub provides insights into past and current financial data for the council as well as council's-controlled entities over the past five years.

Residents will also be able to see past expenses; how much money was spent on the Smart City Program and procurement data for contracts over $200,000.

The initiative is a critical step forward as the new council is left with the task to rebuild trust within the Ipswich community.

 

Ipswich City Council meeting held on Wednesday. Cr Paul Tully.
Ipswich City Council meeting held on Wednesday. Cr Paul Tully.

"Our community's trust in council was heavily shaken in recent years, as damning examples of maladministration and misuse of public moneys came to light," Cr Harding said.

"We want to restore the community trust in council. Much of what occurred under the previous council was shrouded in secrecy, particularly the operations of council-controlled companies to which millions of dollars of ratepayers money was squandered.

"Today we draw a line in the sand and open the books, not only on council finances, but also on council-controlled entities.

"This is just the beginning and we will release a lot more data insights across a range of subjects in the months ahead as well as move to having financial data on the hub updated in near real-time."

The entire Ipswich council was dismissed in 2018 and as at June 2019, 16 people had been charged, including former mayors Paul Pisasale and Andrew Antoniolli, following investigations carried out by Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission.

Former mayor Pisasale was sentenced two years jail and is set to face other charges in two separate trials later this year.

 

 

Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale (centre) arrives at the Brisbane Magistrates Court in Brisbane, Wednesday, August 23, 2017.
Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale (centre) arrives at the Brisbane Magistrates Court in Brisbane, Wednesday, August 23, 2017.

A QCCC report titled Operation Windage found evidence of a wide spectrum of governance and integrity failures, from inappropriate workplace interactions to consistent breaches of policy.

It identified that council policies and procedures were either not followed, or were ignored or circumvented, including by councillors and senior executive employees, resulting in the misuse of council funds and assets.

Ipswich City Council CEO David Farmer said an incredible amount of work went into establishing the hub and launching it in a short amount of time.

 

 

Ipswich City Council meeting held on Wednesday. Mayor Teresa Harding.
Ipswich City Council meeting held on Wednesday. Mayor Teresa Harding.

"Procurement of the product took a month. We only had two months to do this and once we procured it, we had just over a month or around a month to get this into the state that it is now," he said.

"It's what are we able to publish and how much detail are we able to publish is one of the critical issues.

"No doubt some people will be saying where are the names of individuals. There's complex legislation about that and we have to ensure we're following the law."

The hub can be accessed here.



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