It is one year to the next Local Government elections, when Ipswich residents will get to choose new councillors and a mayor.
It has been a tumultuous six months since councillors were sacked and Interim Administrator Greg Chemello and his management team were put in place to get council back on track ahead of the 28 March, 2020 poll.
Much has already been achieved in that period, with Mr Chemello setting out the highlights:
- Substantially restored rational and transparent governance arrangements in council, including broadcast council meetings, restructured council committees and reporting arrangements and refocusing council management on key strategic programs.
- Created VISION 2020, council’s business transformation program of 18 projects that will lead towards proper and ethical practice and a positive culture for council. These projects are the result of numerous focus groups and strategic planning sessions with staff from across the organisation, and a comprehensive review of current policies, procedures and practices.
- Engagement with key stakeholders, community groups to get a better understanding of their priorities across the city and to ensure they’re engaged and informed.
- Confirmed the sale of council’s administration buildings with West Moreton Health, which will form the basis of a health care precinct for Ipswich Central – an imperative for the long-term success of the city.
- Increased commitment to community engagement and created five new community reference groups to channel into the five committees, reflecting the ‘Advance Ipswich’ themes (to feature 100 members).
- Launched a public consultation and engagement program and survey regarding the divisional arrangements for the city moving forward, as advice to convey to the state in determining local government representation for Ipswich for the March 2020 elections and beyond.
- Reviewed Ipswich City Properties and its financials, commenced winding up of ICP, brought the CBD redevelopment into council – a clear focus for the organisation is seeing this project through to completion as soon as possible.
- Focus on council’s people and culture – encouraging staff to speak up through establishment of an independent whistleblower hotline and new complaints management framework, and ensuring staff feel supported and like they have a voice as we move through the next 12 months and beyond.
Mr Chemello said he was confident the organisation was in much better shape now than it was when he was appointed in August 2018.
“Absolutely. While there is much work still to be done over the next 12 months, council is already in a much better place, and under the guidance of new CEO David Farmer I know council will continue to move towards that goal of becoming an exemplar from which other councils will yearn to learn and strive to emulate,” he said.
“We’re in a much stronger position and I’m incredibly grateful to our officers who have worked so very hard to help us to achieve our collective goals.”
As for the next 356 days, Mr Chemello outlined the focus:
- In the immediate future, preparation of a report for the Local Government Minister around the city’s divisional boundary preferences and preparing council for the likely changes that will come from this review.
- Supporting the CEO and the Executive Leadership Team as they continue to oversee the implementation of council’s 18 transformation projects.
- Ensuring the Ipswich Central redevelopment is delivered.
- Continued engagement with the community.
- Preparing council for return to elected representation, which is also one of council’s transformation projects and will be a major focus for council and the community.
- Initiating community consultation around council’s proposed new planning scheme.
- Overseeing, as chair, the implementation of the five new community reference groups and ensuring the community has a voice through this process.