They traveled in style, chartering a private jet, staying in top hotels, dining at expensive restaurants and missing official meetings.
The trip began with a two-night stay at the Emirates Palace hotel for $10,600 where they took an $8,000 helicopter flight to the top of the 7-star Burj Al Arab resort in Dubai for a high tea. afternoon at $575.
Then off to London for three nights at the Savoy Hotel for $14,200, two nights in Paris at the Barrière Le Fouquet’s Hotel for $18,000 followed by three nights in Rome at the Hassler Hotel for $8,700. .
Crossing Europe went in style with a charter private jet costing $27,600 for six days.
Official meetings have been missed – including one with the head of utilities giant, Veolia Group Chairman Doug Dean. Veolia still has interests in Ipswich.
At the time scheduled for the Veolia meeting, some of the officials went on a day trip to the Australian War Museum in Villers-Bretonneux and sight-seeing in central Paris.
A visit to the SCT waste-to-energy gasification plant in Rome was also missed – for more tours, guided tours of the Vatican and a tour of the Colosseum.
Towards the end of the trip, Pisasale and his fellow travelers left the official itinerary altogether, flying to Sicily for a detour.
In the province of Syracuse, Pisasale socialized with relatives and visited his family’s burial sites. One of the four took a boat trip along the coast, before all meeting up for dinner at a local restaurant.
Once home, a 24-page brochure was produced containing their new ideas for the redevelopment of Ipswich.
Pisasale’s only idea after visiting Paris was to copy the international romance icon, the Pont des Arts, proposing to turn the local Bradfield Bridge into a similar attraction.
“There is a bridge in Paris to which all these locks are attached,” he wrote in the Ipswich City Properties brochure.
“We have the Bradfield Bridge which we can make a tourist attraction.
“When people get married, they can engrave names on the locks and lock them on the bridge.”
Nine News used right to information laws to access photographs, receipts and travel itineraries that had been kept secret by various government departments for the past 10 years.
The trove of documents includes a five-page briefing note from the Crime and Corruption Commission to Ipswich City Council detailing how the 2012 tour cost ratepayers over $170,000 – including more than $15,000 that the four paid each other in travel allowances.
“Evidence obtained during the investigation supports the conclusion that during the 14-day trip to the United Arab Emirates and Europe in September 2012, the officers involved engaged in a significant amount of unofficial and also overspent on accommodation, travel and other activities,” he says.
Details of the 2012 tour would eventually form part of the evidence used by the Queensland government to sack the council and appoint trustees in 2018, although with few details for the public at the time.
In July 2018, then local government minister Stirling Hinchliffe referred to overseas ‘trips’ that involved ‘chartered flights on private jets’, bolstering his case for the dismissal of the entire board.
But the extent of these trips has never been made public.
In the days before the council was removed by Act of Parliament, Tully told reporters he had never flown around the world in private jets and criticized the minister for his unprecedented action.
The directors brought in to lead the council would eventually discover that Ipswich City Properties – the entity run by Pisasale, Tully and their two executives – had suffered net losses of $78 million, with a debt of $25 million to the board canceled later in 2019.
The failed attempt to turn the heart of Ipswich into a new global city has only resulted in the development of a single building in the commercial center of the town.
Ten years after the study trip, Pisasale is behind bars for dozens of unrelated offences: extortion of the partner of a Brisbane escort, sexual assault of a woman in his mayoral chambers and bribery for accepting bribes in the form of promised money and escort services.
Wulff also remains in jail after again pleading guilty to separate, unrelated offenses, accepting bribes worth more than $240,000.
The separate CCC investigation resulted in the indictment of 15 people for 86 criminal offences, including seven employees or councillors.
When approached by Nine News to discuss details of the study trip, Tully suggested that the helicopter ride from the Emirates Palace hotel to the Burj Al Arab resort was “not a very easy thing to remember”.
“I don’t have those records, so I’m not in a position to comment on individual issues,” Tully said.
Tully was re-elected to the council in 2020 and has now served for over 40 years as an elected official.
Earlier this month he shocked some of his newly elected colleagues, including current Mayor Teresa Harding, when he decided to reinstate the Pisasale name to a bridge in Springfield and a road in Yamanto, after it was struck off official last year.
The motion initially passed five to four, only to be revoked after a councilor changed his mind.
Harding told Nine News that the overseas overspending revelations would shock the Ipswich community.
“I think the Ipswich community will have a lot of questions,” she said.
“People work hard to pay their rates, fees and charges, these expenses are just extravagant.
“To see this amount of money wasted on extravagant trips abroad, on private jets, on extravagant experiences, on luxury accommodations is not fair, it is unreasonable.
She said she was almost speechless after seeing the itemized list of expenses.
“I just shake my head,” she said.
“How do you do this to the people of Ipswich?” It is beyond belief.