Council CEO referred to Crime and Misconduct Commission

SCRUTINY: Ipswich City Council CEO Carl Wulff (left) and Mayor of Ipswich Paul Pisasale.
Ipswich City Council CEO Carl Wulff

IPSWICH City Council CEO Carl Wulff has been referred to the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) by Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale over a complaint alleging official misconduct.

Cr Pisasale confirmed to The QT yesterday that he had made the referral and notified Mr Wulff of the reasons.

Cr Pisasale said he made the referral to the CMC "because of reports in the media and innuendo" about Mr Wulff's conduct and that he wanted allegations that the CEO may have breached the Local Government Act and council's code of conduct dealt with promptly.

The allegations centre around flood recovery work done by Professional Consulting Group (PCG) for the council. It has been alleged that PCG boss Claude Walker rents a unit owned by Mr Wulff and that rent is paid by the council to PCG.

Cr Pisasale said Mr Wulff had given a "full disclosure" to him of his dealings in the matter.

Mr Wulff said yesterday he was not allowed to comment on the PCG matter now that it was before the CMC.

He said he was comfortable with Cr Pisasale's actions.

"I am happy that it was the right and proper thing for the mayor to do and they (the CMC) are the right authority to review the issues that have been raised and they will make an assessment and determination on that," he said.

"There is always an element of worry when these things happen and reputational damage is often hard to restore, whether you are found innocent or otherwise.

"I am certainly not losing sleep over it, but it is a distraction I can probably do without."

A media report last week, that is not related to the CMC allegations, highlighted Mr Wulff's ownership of an apartment built and sold by a Leighton joint-venture. Mr Wulff is also a board member of Ipswich City Properties, which awarded the $1 billion Icon Ipswich Project to Leighton Properties.

Mr Wulff told The QT yesterday that the two were not linked in any improper way.

"I bought that unit prior to the council or Ipswich City Properties entering into any arrangement with Leighton Holdings," he said.

"I bought it off the plan in about October/November of 2009 and we entered into an arrangement with Leighton's in December 2010. I have made a full disclosure on this along the way so it is not like I have done this by stealth or subterfuge.

"It has been disclosed on my interest register that I have got the apartment, and it has been disclosed to the mayor that PCG was a tenant."

Cr Pisasale has backed Mr Wulff and said he was acting in the best interests of all parties.

"Carl is a good man and he has worked hard for the city," Cr Pisasale said. "He has taken the city into a new dimension in the area of development.

"Too many good people have their name tarnished because people refer them to the CMC, but it is better to deal with it in the right channels and, when I spoke to Carl, he had no problem in me referring it.

"He said, 'I have nothing to hide. I am happy to be investigated'. I told the CMC that I wanted this resolved quickly and efficiently and put to bed because we have worked so hard to get the image of the city right."

A CMC spokesperson confirmed a complaint had been received.

"The CMC is assessing the complaint," they said.

"It is important to note that an assessment does not amount to an investigation. In all complaints, the CMC undertakes a preliminary assessment of the information to determine if it falls within the CMC's jurisdiction and could amount to official misconduct, whether an investigation is warranted and how it should be dealt with.

"In all matters it is important to note that everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence."