News State QLD News Four mayors and a councillor stood down under Queensland’s new corruption laws

Four mayors and a councillor stood down under Queensland’s new corruption laws

Ipswich council scandal
Former mayor Andrew Antoniolli is facing seven fraud charges. Photo: AAP
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Four Queensland mayors and a councillor have been stood down under new laws to automatically suspend allegedly corrupt elected officials.

Logan Mayor Luke Smith and Councillor Stacey McIntosh, Doomadgee Mayor Edric Walden, Hope Vale Mayor Greg McLean and Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli – who had already stood aside – were suspended on Monday.

They are all facing a charge that triggers automatic suspension under new laws that give Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe authority to sack or suspend local government officials charged with corruption or integrity offences.

“This action does not reflect on the outcome of the charges which will be dealt with by the courts,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“I have also written to all councillors to ask them to declare if their status is affected under the new provisions.”

The five officials were suspended on full pay.

Deputy mayors in the affected councils will take on the role of acting mayor, but suspended councillors will not be replaced.

They cannot appeal the suspensions.

Mr Smith is facing charges of official corruption and perjury for allegedly lying during a Crime and Corruption Commission hearing relating to Operation Belcarra, which investigated corruption at the 2016 local government elections.

Ms McIntosh’s suspension was triggered by a stealing charge, while Mr Walden has been accused of misconduct in public office and forgery, and Mr McLean is facing a charge of fraud.

The charges are understood to relate to a speedboat allegedly given to Mr Smith by a Chinese developer, which he later sold.

Mr Antoniolli, a former police officer who ran on a campaign of transparency and accountability, has been charged with seven counts of fraud.

He is among 14 people, including former mayor Paul Pisasale, facing 70 charges in relation to the CCC’s investigations into the scandal-plagued Ipswich City Council.

No one has yet been convicted.

A former high-ranking Ipswich employee faced court on Monday on a third count of misconduct. Craig Maudsley, who stood down as chief operating officer last month, will return to court on July 2.

Elected Ipswich City Council officials have until Thursday to show cause why they should not be sacked, but Mr Hinchliffe can act sooner now that the laws have been assented by Governor Paul de Jersey.

Mr Hinchliffe’s new powers are among broader reforms passed in Parliament last week, including a new code of conduct for councillors and a tribunal to rule on alleged misconduct among local officials.