Yesterday Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe took councillors and his Ipswich colleagues by surprise when he revealed the state would take action to end the saga.
Yesterday Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe took councillors and his Ipswich colleagues by surprise when he revealed the state would take action to end the saga. Cordell Richardson

Councillors given six weeks to clean out offices

THE DISMISSAL - WHAT WE KNOW

  •  A new law will be introduced at parliament's next sitting on the week of August 21 to remove the council
  • Councillors will remain in their jobs and make decisions until then
  • An administrator and advisory panel will be introduced until fresh elections in 2020
  • Stirling Hinchliffe has withdrawn his show-cause notices, ending the council's Supreme Court challenge
  • Who the administrator will be is yet to be announced by the state

COUNCILLORS have six weeks to clean their offices after the State Government announced it would rush through legislation to remove the embattled Ipswich City Council.

A new law will be carefully crafted and introduced to the Queensland Parliament on the week of August 21 to sack the council.

Yesterday Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe took councillors and his Ipswich colleagues by surprise when he revealed the state would take action to end the saga.

His decision comes after the council decided to test the legality of Mr Hinchliffe's two show-cause notices in the Supreme Court.

Mr Hinchliffe said by lodging the court challenge; "Ipswich councillors have made it plain they could drag this process out for years".

"Dismissing a democratically-elected Local Government is not a step to be taken lightly, but it's necessary because of an extraordinary chain of events," he said.

"After a year of turmoil, arrests, criminal charges and a recent Supreme Court challenge it was time to give the Ipswich community certainty.

"For me this decision is as much - if not more - about ratepayers and staff of this bruised and battered council."

The introduction of special legislation will allow for an administrator to be appointed until March 2020 when the next quadrennial council elections are due.

An administrator, which the government says will not be an ex-politician or aligned to the Labor Party, will be supported by an expert advisory panel.

"When the legislation is dealt with and the power is there to appoint the administrator we'll be ensuring there is a competent and capable administrator focused on delivering good public policy," he said.

An advisory group will also be appointed.

Councillors will remain in their roles and some say it will be "business as usual" until the new legislation is passed by the Queensland Parliament.

By introducing an Act of Parliament the State Government will be able to ensure its dismissal of the council cannot be legally challenged.

Mr Hinchliffe has also withdrawn his show-cause notices, rendering the council's Supreme Court challenge lifeless.   Acting mayor Wayne Wendt said the minister had "refused them an opportunity for justice".

"These are extraordinary steps taken by the minister to sidestep the Supreme Court," Cr Wendt said.

"The minister has clearly shown that he is not prepared to defend his show cause action in court, and therefore has little respect for the legal system."

Division 2 Councillor Paul Tully said an administrator would send the city backwards.

"The minister is trying to bluff the people of Queensland into believing court action was a delay tactic by this council," he said.

"This was to gain fair adjudication in a matter which clearly became more about politics than common sense."

LNP deputy leader Tim Mander described the government's show-cause notices as "incompetence at its worst", with legislation introduced last month supposed to be able to deal with the council.

"In the meantime we've had this council with these corruption allegations hanging over its head still running the show."   LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said the mess at the council was far from sorted.

She questioned: "What damage will the people of Ipswich face in the next six weeks from a council that isn't fit to govern?"

The LNP will view the Bill before deciding its position.  



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