CRI­SIS MODE

HOW MANY STAFF COULD BE IM­PLI­CATED?

The Queensland Times - - FRONT PAGE - He­len Speli­tis

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.

PHOTO: ROB WIL­LIAMS

Ip­swich Mayor An­drew An­to­niolli ad­dresses the me­dia on Fri­day morn­ing.

PHOTO: ROB WIL­LIAMS

STORMY WEATHER: Ip­swich Mayor An­drew An­to­niolli ad­dresses the me­dia fol­low­ing charges lev­elled at CEO Jim Lind­say.

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