Leaked notice reveals council 'unable to restore confidence'
STIRLING Hinchliffe has accused councillors of failing to act "legally and ethically" in a five-page notice asking them to prove why they should keep their jobs.
The QT has seen a copy of the confidential show-cause notice issued by the local government minister to Acting Mayor Wayne Wendt and ten councillors earlier this month.
"I am of the opinion that, in the circumstances, dismissal or suspension would appear to be the appropriate response, necessary to uphold the importance of the principles enshrined in the Local Government Act... and to protect the public through general deterrence of other councillors," he wrote.
In a five-page notice to councillors sent on May 3, Mr Hinchliffe noted 12 people including two mayors were facing 66 charges.
"The number of charges laid against such a large number of councillors, council employees and contractors and the very serious nature of those charges leads me to find that there is a systemic issue within both the administration of council and the elected councillors," he wrote.
"I hold the view that councillors are not providing high-quality leadership to the local government and the Ipswich community."
Since the letter was sent, four more people have been charged.
Mr Hinchliffe argued there is an "inability" for the council to restore community confidence.
"I hold the view that the community distrust in the council and the perceived lack of integrity, accountability and transparency is worsening, with little effective action taken to rectify this position and to focus on restoring community confidence and integrity in council," he said.
Today is the deadline for the Ipswich City Council to provide a response to Mr Hinchliffe's show-cause notice.
While he told councillors one submission was preferred, several are expected to lodge their own response to why they should remain employed.
The minister is expected to consider the response before making a decision - which could include issuing another notice under the new, tougher legislation.
In the letter, Mr Hinchliffe bases his views on "the number and severity of the charges levied against such a broad cross-section of the council and the community more broadly, the nature of the charges and the public perception arising from those charges, "leading to a loss of community confidence in council".
The minister also took aim at councillors' compliance with the code of conduct, which specifies councillors must "demonstrate respect" to colleagues, staff, contractors and the public.
He said, "the conduct of certain councillors subject to current charges, has not complied with these requirements of the Code of Conduct".
"The pending charges demonstrate a potential disregard towards promoting the public good and, in particular, promoting public confidence in the council and the system of local government," he wrote.
Mr Hinchliffe proposed dissolving the Ipswich City Council or, alternatively, suspending councillors.