Minister buoyed by city's progress after council's dismissal
STIRLING Hinchliffe has met with senior Ipswich City Council officers for the first time since he dismissed the region's 11 councillors in August.
Mr Hinchliffe, the Local Government Minister, held a whirlwind tour of the region yesterday to get a feel for life without elected leaders.
He spent about one hour speaking with administrator Greg Chemello and meeting the council's executive leadership team.
"My focus in the first instance was to let the administrator get on with his task and not hang around and be in the way," Mr Hinchliffe said.
"I am buoyed by the positive progress and the work that has been undertaken."
Mr Hinchliffe said "grave concerns I had about staff morale and staff disposition before the administrator was put in place" had "dramatically improved".
"This continues to be a work in progress," he said.
Mr Hinchliffe noted the quick implementation of significant reforms - including the decision to close Ipswich City Properties - by Mr Chemello and the advisory panel.
"It's clear that this administration isn't just holding the fort, waiting for the election of a new council in 2020," he said.
"They're getting on with what needs to happen."
Mr Chemello said Mr Hinchliffe was pleased with the progress of the advisory panel.
"It was a chance to brief the minister on where we're at, what are the challenges of the last three months and what we've done to address those," he said.
"We've outlined our intended program of work, where we think we're at and hopefully given the minister some confidence that we'll achieve the mission he set us."
Mr Hinchliffe denied he was attempting to make life difficult for former councillors to be re-elected by changing boundaries.
"I'm not trying to make anything difficult or easy for people to be elected," he said.
"What we need to have is the community elect good-quality candidates who represent the community and have the interests of the whole of the council at heart."
Additional, long-awaited reforms to the Local Government sector are expected to be introduced by the State Government before the 2020 council elections.
The reforms come off the back of several Crime and Corruption Commission reports.
Mr Hinchliffe said the changes could affect how council elections are managed.
"They'll potentially have some impact on council electoral matters," he said.