On 27 April 2020, Ipswich City Council (Council) resolved to publish on a new Transparency and Integrity Hub:
‘all Councillor related expenses, allowances and reimbursements for each month including contextual details of expenses incurred and purpose to enable benchmarking and comparison. Data will be published for the previous five financial years. Where travel costs have been absorbed by specific project costs, these should also be included’.
In preparing to act on Council’s resolution and publish data, Council carefully considered all legislative obligations upon it, relevant to the publication of information, in particular in this case in relation to information privacy.
Council sought advice including the commissioning of an independent Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA). Council carefully considered the recommendations of the PIA and assessed the risks arising from the publication of the personal information contained in the detailed and retrospective transaction data for the previous five financial years.
Council has acted on recommendations of the PIA including recommendation 19 that consultation is undertaken with the Queensland Information Commissioner on applying for a waiver from the application of the Information Privacy Principles in the Information Privacy Act 2009 in the greater public interest of publishing information on the expenditure of public monies.
The Information Commissioner is currently considering Council’s application having sought a range of additional information from Council.
Pending the outcome of the waiver application, data views on the information have been prepared and published to show the nature and amounts of expenses incurred.
Section 186 (1) (b) of the Local Government Regulation 2012 sets out that the annual report for a financial year must contain particulars of the expenses incurred by, and the facilities provided to, each Councillor during the financial year under the local government’s expenses reimbursement policy.
Annual reports for the previous five years can be found on the Ipswich City Council website.