Ipswich sacking unlikely to be repeated

Stirling Hinchliffe says he’d sack another Queensland council if he needed to.The move to sack Ipswich City Council was “extraordinary” but Queensland’s Local Government Minister says he would do it again with another council if he needed to.

The government passed special laws to sack the council after 15 councillors and staff, including former mayors Paul Pisasale and Andrew Antoniolli, were charged with a total of 86 corruption-related offences.

Mr Hinchliffe repeated his claim on Wednesday that the decision to sack the council was the last resort.

However with the Crime and Corruption Commission actively investigating other councils, he conceded if there was another circumstance as bad as Ipswich he could be forced to act.

“If you saw exactly the same circumstances (as Ipswich) it would only be logical that the response would be very similar,” Mr Hinchliffe said on Wednesday.

“I don’t forsee that happening- I want to make sure we work with local government to improve the reforms going on in local government now.”

From Thursday, Ipswich will be run by a sole administrator with all the powers and responsibilities of the mayor and 10 councillors.

Greg Chemello, formerly the general manager of state government planning body Economic Development Queensland, will almost single-handedly administer the council for the next 19 months, until the next local government elections in 2020.

He’ll be advised by a five-member panel of fellow business and planning experts but will be the only decision maker.

Mr Chemello said on Wednesday his first priority would be to meet personally with all of council’s 1200-odd staff.

“I think they have had a very tough time … so my job over the next few days is getting out and speaking with staff, reassuring them there is a way forward,” he said.

Mr Chemello does not live in Ipswich and says he’ll commute to work from Brisbane for the 19 months he’s responsible for the city.