Stirling Hinchliffe holds a press conference in the Ipswich CBD mall with regards to the Ipswich City Council. Councillor Wayne Wendt and Paul Tully.
Stirling Hinchliffe holds a press conference in the Ipswich CBD mall with regards to the Ipswich City Council. Councillor Wayne Wendt and Paul Tully. Cordell Richardson

Commission drops councillors’ unfair dismissal dispute

FORMER Ipswich City councillors who were seeking compensation for what they claim was an unfair dismissal by the State Government have had their case dismissed

Seven former councillors, including Paul Tully, Wayne Wendt, Cheryl Bromage, David Pahlke, David Morrison, Charlie Pisasale and Sheila Ireland, had lodged the legal action with the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission in October 2018.

The legal move was made after the entire council was sacked by special state government legislation in August 2018.

At the core of the case was whether councillors were considered Ipswich City Council employees.

The former councillors were being represented by prominent Queensland barrister Tony Morris QC.

They had lodged termination dispute applications, which the commission has now dismissed.

Had the matter not been dismissed, each former councillor could have been entitled to six months' salary; about $60,000.

Mr Morris had previously said the sacked councillors' cases were strong.

Further details around the commission's decision were yet to be processed by QT deadline yesterday.

Minister for Local Government Stirling Hinchliffe didn't comment on the case and said it was a matter for the courts.

The State Government was forced to step in during August 2018 and passed an act of Parliament to sack the council amid a corruption scandal, when 15 councillors and staff were charged with a total of 86 corruption-related offences.

Further charges were laid following the councils sacking and as at 30 June 2019, 16 people, including council employees, two mayors, two Chief Executive Officers and one Chief Operation Officer have been charged with 91 criminal offences. 

A Crime and Corruption Commission report into the council found the organisation's culture was allowed to deteriorate to the point where corruption was no longer recognised.

The watchdog noted bullying of council staff by long-time councillors and a lack of good governance.

The council is currently being run by a single state government appointed administrator advised by a five-member panel of business and planning experts.

The 10 councillors not charged with corruption offences are free to recontest the next local government elections in 2020.