Former councillors Cheryl Bromage (left), David Pahlke, Paul Tully and Wayne Wendt (all pictured), along with David Morrison and Charlie Pisasale, plan to sue Ipswich City Council after their dismissal by the State Government last month.
Former councillors Cheryl Bromage (left), David Pahlke, Paul Tully and Wayne Wendt (all pictured), along with David Morrison and Charlie Pisasale, plan to sue Ipswich City Council after their dismissal by the State Government last month. QT

Two more sacked Ipswich councillors sue for unfair dismissal

UPDATE: Six of the councillors sacked when Ipswich City Council was dissolved last month amid a corruption scandal are suing their former council for a payout.

David Morrison, Charlie Pisasale have joined the lawsuit, after Queensland Times earlier reported four had plans to sue. They are Wayne Wendt, Paul Tully, Cheryl Bromage and David Pahlke.

The six have taken Ipswich City Council to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission's Industrial Court, seeking reinstatement and a financial payout of up to $60,000 or half a year's pay.

A seventh former councillor, Sheila Ireland, is understood to be about to join the legal action when she returns from overseas.

The State Government stepped in last month and passed an act of parliament to sack the council amid a corruption scandal, when 15 councillors and staff were charged with a total of 86 corruption-related offences.

Mr Tully said because of that action they know they can't get their jobs back, but have to still apply to get them back for the court to consider the case. He claims they're entitled to the money because they were not among those charged and have never been accused of any wrongdoing.

"I make the point, whether you're the managing director of the ABC or a humble worker on the street, you're entitled to have your voice heard on an unfair dismissal claim," Mr Tully said.

"We would be open to any reasonable offer made by the council."

Under Queensland workplace law, wrongful dismissal payouts can be up to 26 weeks' pay, with Ipswich councillors paid over $120,000 a year before any other entitlements.

The matter has been set for October 22 for an initial hearing.

A Crime and Corruption Commission report into the council found the organisation's culture was allowed to deteriorate to the point where corruption was no longer recognised.

The council is currently being run by a single state government appointed administrator, Greg Chemello, advised by a five-member panel of business and planning experts.

The 10 councillors not charged with corruption offences are free to recontest the next local government elections in 2020.

 

OVERNIGHT:

EXCLUSIVE: Dismissed Ipswich councillors sue over sacking 

FIVE former councillors wanting their old jobs back have sued Ipswich City Council after their dismissal by the State Government last month.

Former councillors Wayne Wendt, Paul Tully, Cheryl Bromage, David Pahlke and David Morrison have taken the council to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission's Industrial Court.

They will argue their dismissal, by way of special state government legislation, was unfair.

The five dismissed councillors have lodged an application for reinstatement by the council.

They are seeking a financial payout from Ipswich City Council, which could be up to half a year's pay - $60,000.

Mr Pahlke declined to comment while Mr Wendt, Mr Tully and Ms Bromage did not respond.

>>RELATED: 'Destroyed' ex-councillor attacks forces involved in sacking

The five former councillors had 21 days after their dismissal to lodge the case with the industrial court.

Their matters against Ipswich City Council were lodged on September 13.

It is expected the council's legal team will assess the claims.

 

Former councillor Cheryl Bromage has made an application for reinstatement.
Former councillor Cheryl Bromage has made an application for reinstatement. David Nielsen

A spokesman for Ipswich City Council said the council would not comment on the matters.

The QT understands other councillors were made aware of the plan to lodge the unfair dismissal claim and offered the chance to join - with the potential financial payout promoted.

Queensland Industrial Relations Commission is an independent tribunal established to conciliate and arbitrate industrial matters in Queensland.

Eleven councillors were removed by the State Government in August after a litany of charges were laid by the Crime and Corruption Commission in its investigation into Ipswich City Council.

Councillor David Pahlke reflects on his upcoming sacking.
Councillor David Pahlke reflects on his upcoming sacking. Cordell Richardson

In its investigation, the CCC noted bullying of council staff by long-time councillors and a lack of good governance.

The CCC did not identify which councillors were responsible for the alleged bullying.

The chances of the four former councillors successfully suing the council is unknown.

A source familiar with the four claims said, under the state's constitution, councillors were employees of the State Government.

Councillors' pay and conduct are governed under the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal - a subsidiary of the state's Department of Local Government.

During the parliament's debate on the council dismissal Bill, Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the state could legally act to remove councillors.

"In this particular instance, the government firmly believes that the right of Queensland citizens to have trust in their local government institutions outweighs the rights of the individual," he said.

"In essence, in this case, the rights of the Ipswich community must outweigh those of individual councillors."



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