Mayor's biggest critic dips into fund he condemns
IPSWICH businessman Gary Norman Duffy has been one of the biggest critics of Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, making comments about the mayor's community funds on social media over many months
But the QT can reveal that Mr Duffy accepted $2000 in Bunnings vouchers from the Ipswich Mayor's Community fund when his former business, Keogh St Mechanical, was flooded in 2013.
The funds were a central plank of a 10-month investigation into Cr Pisasale by the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC), which saw him cleared of wrongdoing.
In relation to Cr Pisasale the CCC said it "did not identify any criminal conduct, and, in particular found no evidence that Mayor Pisasale misused any community funds for campaigning".
Mr Duffy has been highly critical of Cr Pisasale and how his various funds are run. Many of his comments cannot be repeated here.
In one of his posts Mr Duffy drew parallels to the way Ipswich is run to the way the Mafia runs Sicily.
He criticised how Cr Pisasale was "handing out money from his collections to pay fines etc for the poor", and said "in Sicily the mafia hand out money to the towns people to keep them happy and in this way they control the poor. What is happening in Ipswich draws parallels to this."
But on June 13, 2013 Mr Duffy signed for the fact that he had received $2000 in Bunnings vouchers after he was flooded. The QT has seen his signature acknowledging this.
When asked by Pita Aupaau why he had such a grudge against the Mayor on the QT Facebook site, Mr Duffy replied , "I just hate people who I believe are corrupt". He also suggested Cr Pisasale had paid for his votes with money.
Contrary to Mr Duffy's assertions, the CCC found the mayor to not be corrupt.
The QT asked Mr Duffy yesterday why he accepted help from the Mayor's Community Fund, and then turned on the very person who set the fund up.
"We didn't know the vouchers were from the mayor," Mr Duffy said.
"We thought they were donated by Bunnings or from the Ipswich City Council, and not from any of his private funds
"The only reason he did it was for his own self interest, not for us. We gave the vouchers away to other people."
But the QT has printed today a personal letter from Cr Pisasale to Mr Duffy, dated May 31, 2013, offering him assistance a full 13 days before he signed for the vouchers.
"The Ipswich Mayor's Community Fund is now pleased to be able to offer you $2000 in vouchers to help in your recovery," Cr Pisasale wrote.
"I'm very proud to be Mayor of a community that cares for people and supports those affected by flood...and I'm keen to continually work with you to assist with your recovery."
Cr Pisasale has used the fund to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to assist those who have suffered through fire and floods.
He paid several parking fines that were deemed to have been unfairly issued after an internal council review.
The QT understands Cr Pisasale has been advised he has a strong case to launch legal action against Mr Duffy.
"There are a lot of people who like to hide behind Facebook and Twitter, but once my legal people open up on them it will be a different story," Cr Pisasale said.
"The Mayor's Community Fund has come under attack.
"People on Facebook have tried to destroy it and destroy me.
"Gary Norman Duffy is a recipient of it. He didn't think it was corrupt when he received $2000 in vouchers.
"He got flooded and we went down to help him. I don't understand why someone we helped would turn around and say the things he has."
Mr Duffy has been banned from the QT social platforms due to the nature of his remarks, which could land the QT in court.
Before he was banned Mr Duffy, who said he twice ran for mayor in North Queensland, posted on the QT Facebook page suggestions that he would be running for mayor in the future.
One of his posts said: "I can almost double the parking in the CBD and make it free with two hour parking zones.
"Vote 1 Gary Duffy for Mayor."
Another post said: "When I am Mayor the CBD will have...no parking meters".
Cr Pisasale said he was unconcerned by Mr Duffy running against him any time in the future.