'No intention of stepping down': Antoniolli on council crisis
IPSWICH City Council will be under the microscope in the coming weeks and months.
It's a fact Mayor Andrew Antoniolli acknowledged this morning when he addressed the media after "shock charges" laid against council CEO Jim Lindsay, by the state's corruption watchdog.
It's another blow for the embattled council.
In the wake of yesterday's charges, Cr Antoniolli said he had consulted with the Local Government Department, the Crime and Corruption Commission and the Local Government Association of Queensland, on the council's options.
He said it was a "rare event" that a council has to stand down its CEO, as Ipswich has.
Mr Lindsay is on leave with pay until further notice.
The city's solicitor Daniel Best has been appointed acting CEO until an external chief officer can be brought in.
The new mayor's voice wavered slightly as he spoke of the 1200 council employees impacted by this week's events, in which two senior council staff have been charged by the CCC.
Cr Antoniolli said his thoughts were with those workers.
"The fact we have had two senior council staff members charged by the CCC; I want to say this clearly and categorically, I have faith and belief in the 1200 staff that are behind me.
All of them are feeling the pressure of this week as well, but I have faith in their ability...," Cr Antoniolli said.
"I back them and they are 100% behind me..
"The ship is in stormy weather at the moment.
"When the weather dies down we still need to set course in a future direction."
Cr Antoniolli acknowledged he had already identified some areas for change ahead of the August by-election, and said those would be addressed at Tuesday's council meeting; where the council will adopt 19 recommendations in an independent governance report.
The governance review was commissioned by CEO Jim Lindsay.
Cr Antoniolli said this was one of the hardest periods in his life but he was unable to say whether more charges would be brought against more council employees, however, said "I hope not".
"I am shocked," Cr Antoniolli said.
"I believe the court process must be followed. Every person deserves the presumption of innocence."
He said there was a strong sense of family at the council and the staff, who have faith in the two senior council employees charged by the CCC, were also shocked.
"We are a resilient council and a resilient city," he said.
"Regardless of the difficulty of this week, we will come through this shining. We will come through this stronger.
"I have no intention of stepping down, stepping back or side stepping any of the issues presented to me during this.
"This is what the role requires and I will undertake it."
Cr Antoniolli stood by previous comments that he was unaware of any potential illegal activity and had he known, he would have reported it.
Cr Antoniolli was elected mayor at the August 19 by-election following the shock resignation of Paul Pisasale who was charged with extortion in June.
Council staff have been offered support.