Thursday, 24 September 2020
Ipswich Councillor reprimanded for inappropriate Facebook post

A Facebook post on Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully’s page has breached the Code of Conduct set for Queensland Councillors. 

On April 17, 2020 a meme posted on the Paul Tully Facebook page titled ‘Funny Friday’ contained the wording, “I asked my trainer at the gym which machine I should use to impress beautiful women, he pointed outside and said the ATM machine.” 

A Wise Workplace Investigation Services report found that the allegation of inappropriate conduct was substantiated and that the social media post could amount to a breach of the code of conduct for councillors. 

The report found the post showed a lack of respect for women and reinforced negative gender stereotypes. 

It also stated that the conduct of posting the meme was not consistent with meaningful engagement with the community. 

At the full meeting of council on Thursday, Cr Tully addressed the council from his seat, saying it was never his intention to cause offence. 

“I’m sincerely sorry for what has occurred. I’ve already apologised on the day of publication.” 

He said that the Facebook page was not identified as a council Facebook page and that an assistant scheduled the post in January. He said the post was taken down within one hour. 

The investigation report found that the Paul Tully Facebook page is more likely than not to be perceived by his followers to be inherently linked to his role as councillor.   

Mayor Teresa Harding addressed the rest of the Councillors as they made a decision on Cr Tully’s penalty. 

“I understand there is probably a feeling of discomfort in having to judge and potentially mete out a penalty to one’s colleague,” she said.   

“But this is the responsibility we have as elected representatives. I know in my short time in working with the people around this table that you all value integrity, honesty and doing the right thing on behalf of the residents of Ipswich."

Cr Kate Kunzelmann said that while she agreed the post did result in inappropriate conduct the penalty should be reasonable. 

“These matters of personal outrage are occupying us a lot, especially the relationship between men and women, but I think this one is a low-level problem," Cr Kunzelmann said 

There was an order to reprimand Cr Tully which the report outlined would be a letter sent to him.