The Ipswich City Council administration building.
The Ipswich City Council administration building.

Complaints about council conduct revealed

OVERCLAIMING travel expenses, inappropriate use of council funds and interfering in processes leading up to the 2020 local government elections are just some of the allegations published in Ipswich City Council's councillor conduct register.

The register dates back to 13 December 2018, but decisions weren't made on some of the matters until November 2019, after they were assessed by the Office of the independent Assessor.

None of the lodged complaints were investigated further, mostly due to the entire council already being dismissed in August 2018 and councillor names have not been published on the register.

The first complaint to appear on the register was lodged over allegations a former councillor had overclaimed travel allowances and an overnight stay when they resided only 20 minutes away from the chosen accommodation.

It alleged the same former councillor had allocated excessive funding to Council's Children Library Services, where their wife was working as the manager. The manager is not the subject of any complaint.

In a separate complaint dated 22 January, it was alleged that a former councillor had arranged for soil fill to be delivered to resident's properties by Council staff.

In February, it was alleged a former councillor had used a council funded study tour to attend a motorsport event.

Two months later it was alleged Ipswich City Council had engaged in inappropriate conduct relating to a sewer and had failed to inform homeowners, which caused the complainant's house to subside into the sewer.

Past councillors and the current administration were referenced, but no further action was taken on the matter.

The OIA decided not to investigate further on the basis the complaint did not include sufficient information to investigate the conduct of any councillor that could be inappropriate conduct or misconduct.

In another complaint dated 29 May, it was alleged council had caused detriment to a complainant by using public funds to fund personal and private legal matters.

Again, the matter was dismissed as the OIA deemed taking further action would be an unjustifiable use of resources and the complaint was in relation to a decision of council and not a specific councillor.

In August it was alleged a Senior Council Officer may have interfered in processes leading up to the 2020 local government election, but no further details around the allegation were included on the register.

The OIA delegate made the decision to dismiss the complaint on the basis it did not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct and the complaint was in relation to a staff member and outside of OIA jurisdiction.

Finally, a complaint dated 22 October suggested a councillor engaged the services of a saddle maker and harness repairer to install a boot cover and curtains on a Cobb & Co Coach for an amount of $6,200.

"It was alleged a councillor did not follow the proper procurement process and may have favoured someone known to him and then went onto instruct Council employees to use the saddle maker and harness repairer without following a proper procurement process," the complaint read. Acting on advice from the councillor's legal representative, the OIA determined it was no longer in the public interest to progress a disciplinary investigation when a person is no longer a councillor, or will not be a councillor in the future.