Veteran Ipswich councilor Paul Tully has rejected calls for the resignation and is defending private jet travel when traveling overseas with other directors of a council-owned company.
- Documents reveal CCC letter detailing ‘overspending’ on 2012 study trip to UAE and Europe
- The Ipswich Ratepayers and Residents Association calls for the resignation of Paul Tully
- Mr Tully says he has done nothing wrong and will not leave the council
A right to know request from Nine News revealed that Mr Tully, then Mayor Paul Pisasale and two other directors of Ipswich City Properties Pty Ltd (ICP) accumulated what the corruption watchdog of the state called “excessive” bills for accommodation, travel and other activities. during a two-week study trip to the United Arab Emirates and Europe in September 2012.
The documents contain a letter from the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) which details examples of “overspending”, including:
- $10,652 for two nights accommodation in Abu Dhabi at the 5-star Emirates Palace Hotel
- $8,044 for a charter helicopter flight from the Emirates Palace to a 7-star resort off Dubai
- $17,982 for two nights accommodation in Paris at the 5-star Hotel Barrière Fouquet’s
- $27,630 for a private charter jet booked for a period of six days/five nights and “used to fly from Paris to Rome to Sicily and then to Geneva”
The CCC said in the letter that it was not possible to “precisely determine” the total cost of the 2012 trip, but said it exceeded $170,000, including $15,365 in travel expenses paid by ICP to the four directors of ICP, including Mr. Pisasale, Mr. Tully and Carl Wulff.
“Evidence obtained during the investigation supports the conclusion that during the 14-day trip to the United Arab Emirates and Europe in September 2012, the officers involved engaged in a significant amount of unrelated activity. officials and also spent excessive sums on accommodation, travel and other activities,” the CCC letter states.
ICP was wholly owned by Ipswich City Council and started in 2009 with a $50 million loan from the Queensland Treasury and $41 million advances from the council.
He bought properties in the central business district of Ipswich with a long-term, open-ended redevelopment plan.
ICP was dissolved in 2019.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr Tully – who spent four decades in local government – claimed he had not seen the RTI documents but had “done nothing wrong”.
“Artie Fadden, when he was Prime Minister of Australia, said, ‘Never complain, never explain and never resign’, and Artie Fadden was right,” Mr Tully said.
“I’ve spent 41 years trying to represent this community and I stand by my record.
Mr Tully said there had been two trips regarding ICP – one to the United States in 2010 and one to Europe and the United Arab Emirates in 2012.
“Both were economic development issues for the town of Ipswich,” he said.
“The one in Europe was to meet the General Agent of Queensland, we visited the Olympic venue in London. Before that, in Abu Dhabi, we looked at driverless vehicles. It was an opportunity to look at a series of problems, talk to people and bring the goods back to Ipswich.
“The state government and the CCC have not advanced any investigation into what we did.”
Mr Tully said ‘personally’ he didn’t like traveling or being away from his family, but was one of the directors of the ICP.
‘I had no involvement in the preparation, itinerary or payment of the bills,’ Mr Tully said.
The documents showed that the CCC’s investigation into the group’s study trip to the United Arab Emirates and Europe in 2012 revealed that they engaged in “a significant amount of unofficial activity”, including touring and afternoon tea costing $574 at the 7 star resort located in Dubai and sightseeing tours. in Sicily.
One director traveled to visit family burial plots and relatives, while another took a boat trip to see sea caves and the surrounding coastline, the letter said.
The CCC found that there were instances where the “affected officers had planned to attend a presentation regarding ICC business developments…but evidence shows that they ultimately did not attend”.
Mr Tully said he had ‘evidence from the former CEO that when we traveled overseas we saved money for the company by committing to private jets’.
“The advice I’ve had since 2016 is very clear that chartering planes can save money, quite significantly, for travel… it’s saved money and saved time “, did he declare.
“I’m just going to read this: ‘The costs of additional flights and accommodation using the US domestic airline hub system would have resulted in additional expense to the company…the four cities would have had to be extended an additional two days in as a result…the only reason a charter flight was used was to save money and time.”
Pisasale is serving a prison sentence for a series of offenses including sexual assault, official corruption and fraud, among others.
In 2019, Carl Wulff was sentenced to five years in prison – suspended after 20 months – after pleading guilty to official corruption and attempting to pervert the course of justice for accepting bribes worth over $240,000.
Mr Tully ‘should pay that money back’
The leader of a group representing Ipswich taxpayers is calling for Mr Tully’s resignation and a full investigation into his conduct, in light of the release of the expense information.
Jim Dodrill, a longtime anti-corruption campaigner and chairman of the Ipswich Taxpayers and Residents Association, said residents would be right to feel betrayed by Mr Tully’s conduct.
“At the very least, he should be forced to resign and be forced to pay that money back,” Mr. Dodrill said.
He criticized the Information Commissioner’s Office (OCI) – a Queensland statutory body – which blocked the release of spending information in March last year.
“We see no valid reason why the OIC did not authorize the publication of this information – this information was in the public interest,” he said.
“People needed to know and should have known how their money was being spent or misused by these advisers, so we would say the OIC got it wrong on this occasion.”
Mr Dodrill also called on Queensland Labor to reconsider its relationship with longtime party member Mr Tully.
‘I think Labor needs to get away from Mr Tully and allow him to be held accountable for his actions,’ he said.
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said she was “horrified” when she first saw the spending in June 2020.
“It was my aim at the time for it to be published on the Transparency and Integrity Center which the council launched in 2020…we had to work with the Information Commissioner for this…but like the rest from Ipswich, absolutely horrifying,” she said.
Former Bundamba Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller echoed his views.
“I think on behalf of the people of Ipswich, everyone was outraged by the extravagant spending,” she said.
“No one expects people traveling abroad to stay in backpackers but that was just overkill…staying at the London Savoy, all those five star hotels whose working class people of Ipswich can only dream of.”
At a Sunshine Coast press conference, Transport Minister Mark Bailey was asked if the state government was considering action.
“The Palaszczuk government sacked Ipswich council – we were very tough on them, and for good reason,” he said.
“I think Paul Tully has some very serious questions to answer about what he did to the ratepayers at Ipswich.”
It was previously reported that the council spent more than $80,000 of taxpayers’ money in legal fees to defeat a related right-to-know request by the Courier-Mail about travel arrangements, including travel arrangements. using a private jet.