Council Interim Administrator Greg Chemello with new CEO David Farmer.

New Ipswich City Council CEO David Farmer says his first few days will be spent as “a sponge”, learning all he can from staff about council, its many projects, and the city itself.

Mr Farmer started in the role yesterday after recently finishing an 11-year stint as general manager of Wollongong City Council.

He steered Wollongong through a three-year period of administration and said he was happy to bring those skills to Ipswich during a phase which would lead to a return to elected council in March 2020.

“I expect to see similar situations and administrative needs here and I’m happy to bring my experience to this role,” Mr Farmer said.

Mr Farmer also acknowledged there were significant differences. At Wollongong, for example, it took almost a decade to restore the council’s finances. “Here at Ipswich, my understanding is that we’re in pretty good shape, there is a lot to be proud about,” he said.

“That allows us to get on with building a robust system of governance – a platform from which we can manage one of the country’s fastest-growing cities. Suburban development, infrastructure and jobs growth are important to any city, but even more so when population is expected to more than double in two decades. (Note: SEQ Regional Plan data – 200,100 in 2016 to 520,000 in 2041)

“I’m already seeing that Ipswich is positioned as a key logistics hub in South East Queensland. Our Defence sector is primed. Manufacturing, property, construction and health industries are all very strong, and we are highly regarded as an innovative smart city.”

“I understand that waste is a critical issue. And I know that people are keen to see the development of the city’s CBD. I’ll be fully briefed on these issues, along with others, over coming days and weeks.”

In previous roles, Mr Farmer oversaw foreshore developments in both Cairns and Wollongong. He also saw the commencement of Fowler’s Rd Bridge in Wollongong, a $90 million project which began after 30 years of discussion.

“It is clear that we as a council need to restore public trust and confidence,” Mr Farmer said.

“There’s also an opportunity for us as a council to play an advocacy role – to ensure the right infrastructure is in place so the city can play a pivotal role in the development of South East Queensland.”

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