NEW TEAM: A raft of changes, recommended in an independent report, will be presented to the council on Tuesday.
NEW TEAM: A raft of changes, recommended in an independent report, will be presented to the council on Tuesday. Rob Williams

'A new direction': Council to abolish 'secret' boards

A RAFT of changes will be ushered in at the council's next meeting.

Ipswich City Council plans to adopt a large number of recommendations, handed down in an independent governance report.

The QT has exclusively been given the full report, commissioned by CEO Jim Lindsay - who was last night charged by the CCC - before the August 19 election.

As part of the process, council staff were interviewed, documents examined and measures in place to "mitigate risks" analysed.

There are 19 recommendations in the report to be tabled in Tuesday's council meeting.

Among the more dramatic recommendations is a move to abolish 'secret' boards within the council.

The abolishment of the boards signifies significant change regarding transparency around council activity.

At present, Ipswich ratepayers have very limited access to information on council decisions within meetings, committee meetings and board meetings.

Items can easily be moved from committee meetings, which are generally open to the public to attend, into confidential board meetings, which are not open to the public.

By the time those decisions make it to the public domain, the details are reduced to a motion similar to 'the council agrees to adopt the latest report from a committee'.

**Click here to see a copy of Ipswich council's latest meeting agenda, compared to Gladstone Regional Council's latest meeting agenda, for example. 

No agendas or minutes are publicly available for committee meetings, however, under these new recommendations that will change.

Other items within the report include changes to councillors' expense claim declarations improving the accessibility to councillors' register of interest and changes to how charitable donations are made throughout the divisions.

Newly appointed Ipswich mayor Andrew Antoniolli, who ran on a platform of increased accountability, improved communication and transparent governance, said the report reinforced his pre-election promises.

Cr Antoniolli has also committed to winding up three of the council-owned companies, which have been the subject of controversy, as limited information on these entities is publicly available.

"This is a new direction and people will immediately see a more transparent council," Cr Antoniolli said.

"People will be able to see decisions made by the council and how we came to those decisions.

"It is really hard to argue with these recommendations."

But some did argue.

The QT understands this week's committee meetings were tense with some councillors initially opposing some of the recommended changes.

Cr Antoniolli said pushing the report through that initial meeting was the first hurdle, and that had been successful.

"This is not just about transparency, it's about changing the culture of an organisation," he said.



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