The upbeat mood displayed by Acting Mayor Wayne Wendt and his fellow Councillors at yesterday’s budget announcement was clearly diminished after revealing the Council has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the latest issued show cause notice.
The show cause notice was given to the Council last week by Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe in a move to dismiss the council using new powers rushed through Parliament last month.
Cr Wendt said the application to dispute the show cause notice was not only lodged in the interest of Ipswich residents, but to “protect all Queensland Council’s into the future” by ensuring Ministerial powers are appropriately applied.
“Nobody wants to go through this, but our hands are forced,” Cr Wendt said.
“We have provided the Minister with all of the information he has required.
“We have offered solutions and we have provided evidence that have refuted his concerns.”
Time constraints also played a factor in the application, after only being given 6 business days to respond.
“The amount of time we’ve had to prepare a submission.. we don’t believe it’s sufficient,” he said.
“Part of this will be that if we can get an extension, that will be fine but the reality is we needed to do that before Friday.”
The Acting Mayor also went on to suggest that Mr Hincliffe does not have the jurisdiction to make a recommendation to the Governor in Council to dissolve Council, nor appoint an interim administrator, and therefore will seek an injunction that would see the Minister be restrained from acting any further on that notice, and allow Councillors to continue managing the city.
“This second show cause notice is deficient in our perspective,” Cr Wendt said.
“I want to make it clear. This is not about declaring war on the state government.
“To the contrary, it is about seeing sense in the situation, and seeking an opportunity to find the right solutions. It’s about doing what’s right for the people of Ipswich.”
Minister: Council are “hiding behind new legal proceedings”
In a statement released earlier today, Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said it was “gravely disappointing” to see the Ipswich City Council use a legal loophole to dispute the latest show cause notice.
“Residents, ratepayers and businesses deserve transparent and accountable leadership – they want a Council they can have confidence in.
“I am more determined than ever to address any governance shortcomings at Ipswich City Council, which is why I’ve issued a show cause notice that includes a right of reply.
“Council’s delaying tactics in seeking to circumvent the legal process already underway will only create more uncertainty and confusion for the people of Ipswich.
Mr Hinchliffe said he will “not hesitate” to utilise any powers possible to restore transparency and accountability within the Ipswich City Council, to ensure they are able to best serve the Ipswich community and its interests.
Jim Dodrill: “This Council doesn’t represent anybody but this Council”
President of the Ipswich Ratepayers and Residents Association Jim Dodrill has described the Council’s decision to fight the second show cause notice as “reminiscent of the darkest days of the Bjelke-Peterson era”.
“They do not have the right to use ratepayer money to defend their actions because if somebody acts in a corrupt way or acts with misconduct, we believe they should have to pay for that out of their own pockets,” Mr Dodrill said.
The anti-corruption campaigner said the Minister for Local Government Stirling HInchliffe was within his legal rights to demand a second show cause notice.
“The Minister has the power to move on any Council with a history of corruption and misconduct.
“We do not believe that this is anything other than a delaying tactic from this Council to prevent administrators or anybody from coming in and looking at the books.”
Speaking to the media after protesting at both the Ipswich Civic Centre and Ipswich City Council Administration building, Mr Dodrill also added that the Ipswich Ratepayers and Residents Association believe there will be further charges laid against current and past staff members of the Council.
“It’s our understanding that there will be more charges laid in the near future, some of those charges relate to current serving people in the Council and some relate to people who have since moved on from the Council.”