Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe announced the move in state parliament on Thursday, a day after Mayor Andrew Antoniolli, the second major to be charged, was slapped with seven fraud offences by the Crime and Corruption Commission.
Mr Antoniolli, who will front court later this month, denied any wrongdoing and initially said he wouldn’t stand down, but changed his mind on Thursday morning.
Mr Hinchliffe will also ask the entire council to show cause as to why it should not be disbanded.
“The impacts we’ve already seen are devastating, on the moral of council staff, including on the personal well-being of individuals and on council’s ability to deliver good policy outcomes and on the Ipswich community as a whole,” he told state parliament.
“I have reached the conclusion that Ipswich City Council can no longer function effectively.” Twelve people, including two mayors and two chief executive officers, are facing a total of 66 charges from the CCC’s investigations into the council. Mr Hinchliffe will next week ask Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s cabinet to consider strengthening his legislative powers to dismiss councils when they lose the trust of communities.
“I believe this course of action is necessary to restore public confidence in the Ipswich City Council,” he said.
Ms Palaszczuk said too many charges had been levelled at too many officials for the council to maintain confidence.
“Enough is enough,” she said.
“This will stop and I am stopping it.” Mr Antoniolli, elected in August on a platform of integrity and transparency, is alleged to have used council funds for his own use for five years until May 2017 to buy auction items from charities.
Rogue local Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller applauded Mr Hinchliffe’s move on Thursday but said more needed to be done to clean up the Labor-affiliated council. “The community is saying to me that they’ve had enough, they’ve had a gutful of all of this,” she told ABC Radio on Thursday.
“They’re saying that the stench does not only come from the dumps in Ipswich, it’s also coming from the council.”