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ACCESS DENIED: Council blocks Right To Information request

THE council has refused to process a Right To Information request lodged by the QT regarding defamation suits against former mayoral candidate Gary Duffy.

In July, the QT lodged a request specifically asking for financial information on the defamation suits launched against Mr Duffy, following the 2016 local government elections.

The suits concern CEO Jim Lindsay and also former mayor Paul Pisasale.

The council has been asked to supply this information on a number of occasions. This week, the council's acting corporate services and risk manager responded to the RTI request, saying the application would not be dealt with.

"Council has formed the view that the application has triggered section 42 of the RTI Act, as dealing with the application will substantially and unreasonably divert resources of Council from their use by Council in the performance of functions within the mean of s.41 of the RTI Act," the letter reads.

A notice of this decision, included in the letter, states the council estimates complying with the QT's request would return more than 2000 pages of documents.

It included an option to "consult" with the council on the request regarding wording, which may result in the council handing over some documents detailing financials information in relation to the suit.

In response to a previous query on this subject in June, the council told the QT: "Council does have a policy that may cover costs.

"Whether or not the cases are funded by council will be based on the outcome of each individual case.

"In most cases, the losing party will pay costs for the other side."

Under the Councillors and Officers Liability Insurance Policy, held by the council via the Local Government Mutual Insurance Scheme, councillors are entitled to legal assistance.

The former mayor - who is no longer entitled to legal assistance through the council - and CEO Jim Lindsay are suing Mr Duffy for defamation.

Mr Duffy ran for mayor in the 2016 local government elections and again in Saturday's mayoral by-election, the results of which are yet to be officially declared by the Electoral Commission Queensland, although Cr Andrew Antoniolli is the clear leader has claimed victory.

While many local governments keep a publicly available online list detailing RTI requests, Ipswich City Council does not.

The council is technically not required to publish a disclosure log, but is strongly encouraged to do so by regulator, the Information Commissioner.

A spokesperson for Ipswich City Council said the policy was under review. 

"...the council is working with the office of the Information Commissioner. There is likely to be a number of recommendations as part of that process," the spokesperson said.

What we asked for

  • All internal documents including emails, lawyers' letters, memos, and official correspondence regarding former mayor Paul Pisasale's and CEO Jim Lindsay's defamation suits against Gary Duffy. Specifically, any and all reference to costs ($), amounts paid and/ or outstanding bills. Date range: February 2016 to present.

Topics:  gary duffy ipswich city council jim lindsay paul pisasale right to information



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