The Queensland parliament has dismissed the Ipswich City Council over integrity concerns and appointed as administrator a planning and economic development expert.
General Manager of Economic Development Queensland Greg Chemello takes up the role of interim administrator on Thursday, and will remain in place until local government elections in 2020.
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the state government had been left with no alternative but to dismiss the council in the wake of an unprecedented integrity crisis in Ipswich.
“The CCC’s investigation into Ipswich City Council found widespread failures of governance, a lack of transparency and accountability and a serious risk of corruption,” he said.
“To date there are 15 people facing 86 charges in Ipswich as a result of those investigations, which is undermining confidence in the city and its economy.”
The passage of the legislation suspending the council also ends the term of each of the councillors, including suspended mayor Andrew Antoniolli.
‘Vastly experienced’ in governance
Chemello has has 35 years’ experience in the public and private sectors, said Hinchliffe.
He was acting director general of the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs earlier this year when local government integrity reforms were being implemented. Chemello also spent three years as deputy DG at the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning.
Before that, he worked across the private and government sectors in strategic planning, development, project management, and organisational change roles.
“He’s vastly experienced in governance, change management and commercial negotiations — all vital attributes needed to lead Ipswich in this challenging period,” Hinchliffe said.
“In addition to this, he has extensive experience in planning and government property transactions which will assist in managing a range of council projects now underway in Ipswich.”
Interim management committee
Chemello will be supported by an interim management committee with expertise in business, finance, governance and community engagement, including:
- Stan Gallo (Forensic Investigation) — a current KPMG partner, he is experienced in the forensic investigation of organisations and will lead internal investigations of the Ipswich City Council. He was formerly employed by the Crime and Corruption Commission.
- Simone Webbe (Governance, Ethics) — a barrister and former high-ranking public servant with extensive public sector experience in constitutional and public law, governance, accountability, anti-corruption and integrity reforms. She recently undertook a Strategic Review of the Office of the Queensland Ombudsman.
- Jan Taylor (Community Engagement) — has experience in complex community consultation on private and public sector projects across Australia and internationally, through consultancy work with the United Nations. She has served two terms on the Queensland Competition Authority and chaired or been a non-executive director on boards for the RACQ, Building Services Authority and Ports Queensland.
- Steve Greenwood (Business Engagement) — is a local government policy expert who has significant experience in urban planning and the property sector. He is the founding CEO of the Queensland Futures Institute, a former CEO of Canegrowers Australia and the former Queensland Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia.
- Robert Jones (Future Financial Practices) — Former Chair of Queensland’s KPMG practice. He has strong experience in corporate governance and risk management and was Partner in Charge of KPMG’s Audit Practice for 10 years.
Staff wellbeing a priority
The wellbeing of council staff will be a top priority for the administrator and the interim management committee, said Hinchliffe.
“They’ll be tasked to build and maintain a healthy council culture, install sound financial management practices, progress key projects, and manage considerable organisational change.
“All council operations will continue as usual — there will be no interruptions to day-to-day service delivery.
“The interim administrator will also have a strong focus on council staff welfare.
“Council staff will be able to seek confidential advice on workplace concerns and report incidents of suspected misconduct or corrupt conduct.”