Paul Tully was the only councillor to vote against a motion to publish current councillors’ expenses at Thursday’s meeting.
Paul Tully was the only councillor to vote against a motion to publish current councillors’ expenses at Thursday’s meeting.

Former councillors’ expenses set to be published online

THE expenditure of former councillors and directors of council-owned entities is set to be published soon on Ipswich City Council's Transparency and Integrity Hub.

Mayor Teresa Harding admitted she was frustrated with privacy issues that limited the scope of information, as well as the ability to publish names, when the hub launched on July 1.

All current councillors except for veteran Division 2 councillor Paul Tully have signed a privacy waiver to allow their expenses to be made public regularly.

The council submitted an application to the Queensland Office of the Information Commissioner for a waiver from its obligation to comply with the privacy principles in the public interest in line with the Information Privacy Act 2009 in July.

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All councillors bar Cr Tully voted in favour publishing the expenses of current councillors who have provided "either their express or implied consent" to their personal information on the hub at Thursday's meeting.

Former councillors and directors of council-owned entities were contacted in September to request consent to publish their personal information on the portal.

Corporate services general manager Sonia Cooper told councillors that "less than half a dozen" had agreed to have their information published.

"It is in the minority of responses we have received that have consented," she said.

"There are a number that have consented, there are a number that have made it very clear that they don't provide their express consent and there are two that have sought further information."

Follow up letters will be sent soon.

"At the earliest opportunity, after allowing say a period of a couple of weeks for any further response or questions to come forward, we will be writing to the Information Commissioner again," Ms Cooper said.

"The Information Commissioner has … made it clear to us that they do expect council to have exhausted consultation with affected individuals prior to the Information Commissioner considering herself in a position to make a decision on our application for a waiver.

"I feel that after this follow up letter has been sent (and) two weeks provided, we will really be calling, subject to the CEO's agreement, on the Information Commissioner to make her decision on our application.

"We could commence publishing (information on former councillors and former directors who have consented) really effectively now.

"We would be looking to begin that publication certainly no later than before the calendar year is out, pending of course the Information Commissioner's response."

Cr Tully moved an amendment to remove 'implied consent' from the motion but did not receive any support from his fellow councillors to second it.

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CEO David Farmer said Brisbane City Council has detailed councillor expenditure published monthly.
"(It has) done for decades," he said.

"That happens and they wouldn't be signing a consent form. They just do it, that's the way business is done.

"It's an implied consent because that's customary practice.
"As opposed to here where our customary practice has not been doing that."

Cr Tully argued for it to be removed.

"It's difficult to conceive in circumstances where people's rights are being considered where an implied consent might be given and how it might be interpreted and who might interpret it," he said.

"This is the first occasion where this matter has arisen and there no customary practice established that we need to be clear."

Cr Tully voted against the original motion.

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.


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