HOW MANY STAFF COULD BE IMPLICATED?
AT THE end of a tumultuous week, Mayor Andrew Antoniolli has admitted he does not know how many more Ipswich City Council staff could be charged by the CCC.
The former police officer has labelled the current predicament facing his council as the “second most” challenging time in his life – behind his introduction to the Queensland Police Service as a 19-year-old – drawing comparisons to the the infamous Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen era of Queensland politics. Cr Antoniolli has vowed not to stand down amid the crisis.
THE council has no idea if more employees will be charged by the CCC, the mayor has said.
In the wake of “shock charges” brought against Ipswich City Council’s CEO, new mayor Andrew Antoniolli drew comparisons between this period of upheaval and the historic Fitzgerald Inquiry into police corruption.
Cr Antoniolli yesterday said he did not know if the state’s corruption watchdog had plans to charge more council staff but said the council would be “under the microscope” in the coming weeks and months.
“I hope not,” Cr Antoniolli saidd when asked if more charges were expected.
Cr Antoniolli said this was the “second hardest” period of his life, the first being when he was sworn in as a police officer at the age of 19, two weeks after the report on the Fitzgerald Inquiry was handed down.
“That was one of the toughest times I have ever endured as an individual,” Cr Antoniolli said.
“I was a 19-year-old police officer who was not trusted by the community and not trusted by my colleagues.
“This is probably the second hardest time I have ever endured in my life and I have no intention of stepping down, I have no intention of stepping back, I have no intention of side stepping any of the issues that are presented to me in relation to this or any other matters.
“This is what the role requires and I will undertake it.”
The arrest of CEO Jim Lindsay is another blow for the embattled council after senior employee Craig Maudsley was charged this week with misconduct.
In the wake of yesterday’s corruption charge against the CEO, 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.
CEO Jim Lindsay is on leave with full 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 would adopt 19 recommendations in an independent governance report.
The governance review was commissioned by CEO Jim Lindsay.
“I am shocked,” Cr Antoniolli said, of the charges brought against Mr Lindsay.
“I believe the court process must be followed. Every person deserves the presumption of innocence.”
Cr Antoniolli 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.”
Cr Antoniolli stood by previous comments that he was unaware of any potential illegal activity and had he known, he would have reported it.
Council staff have been offered support.
Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli addresses the media on Friday morning.
STORMY WEATHER: Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli addresses the media following charges levelled at CEO Jim Lindsay.