The outrageous spending of four small-town Australian public servants on a luxury ‘study’ tour including a private charter jet and golden hotel room has been revealed.
In 2012, then-mayor of Ipswich Paul Pisasale, took the taxpayer-funded trip of a lifetime with council colleagues Paul Tully, Carl Wulff and Jim Lindsay.
On their stunning spending trip, the group used $170,000 of taxpayer funds to stay in world-famous hotels in London, Paris and the United Arab Emirates, and forked out $27,000 on a private charter jet.
Pisasale was eventually sentenced to at least seven-and-a-half years in jail in 2020 after pleading guilty to extortion, fraud and sexual assault.
His colleague Carl Wulff is also in jail, after being convicted for accepting bribes.
The outrageous spending of four small-town Australian public servants on a luxury world ‘study’ tour funded by Ipswich ratepayers, including a private charter jet, has been revealed
The quartet spent $170,000 including $27,000 on a private charter jet and thousands more each time they stayed in world-famous hotels in London, Paris and the United Arab Emirates (Pictured, the Emirates Palace Hotel, where the group stayed)
At the end of the trip, they four departed entirely from the official itinerary, flying to visit Pisasale’s family in Syracuse, Sicily (Pictured, Pisasale in Sicily during the 2012 trip)
Walls of the the Emirates Palace Hotel rooms are adorned with real gold leaf and fittings are made of Swarovski crystal
The details were revealed after an application under the Right to Information Act was made by Nine.
Back in 2012, Pisasale, Tully, Wulff and Lindsay departed Australia on the mayor’s birthday and flew business class to the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, which was the most expensive hotel in the world at the time after opening back in 2005.
Walls of the hotel’s rooms are adorned with real gold leaf and fittings are made of Swarovski crystal.
It was once described as ‘opulence to end all opulence’.
Pisasale took the taxpayer-funded trip of a lifetime with council colleagues Paul Tully, Carl Wulff and Jim Lindsay (Pictured together during their helicopter trip to high tea atop the 7-star Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai)
During the group’s $10,000 two-night stay at the Emirate’s Palace, they took an $8,000 helicopter joyride to the 7-star Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai for a $575 high tea (Pictured, the Burj al Arab hotel)
The four men spent two nights in Paris at the Hotel Barriere Le Fouquet’s for $18,000 (Pictured, Fouquet’s hotel)
PISASALE POSSE’S TAXPAYER-FUNDED 2012 WORLD TOUR
Ipswich City Council public servants Paul Pisasale (the mayor) Paul Tully (deputy mayor), Carl Wulff (council CEO) and Jim Lindsay (finance officer) undertook a taxpayer-funded overseas trip to gather ideas for the ill-fated Ipswich city redevelopment in 2012.
Their trip included stops in:
- Abu Dhabi (UAE) – 2 nights in Emirates Palace Hotel: $10,600
- Dubai – helicopter ride to high tea in Burj al Arab hotel: $595
- Europe – 6 days on private charter jet: $27,600
- London – 2 nights in the Savoy Hotel: $14,200
- Paris – 2 nights in Hotel Barriere Le Fouquet’s: $18,000
- Rome – 3 nights in Hotel Hassler: $8,700
During their $10,000, two-night stay at the Abu Dhabi hotel, they also took an $8,000 helicopter joyride to the 7-star Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai for a $575 high tea.
Two of the group also played a round of golf at the Abu Dhabi golf club, where a round costs A$400 today.
After their jaunt in the UAE, the group travelled to London to stay at the Savoy Hotel – racking up a bill of $14,200.
It was then on to Paris at the Hotel Barriere Le Fouquet’s for $18,000 before spending three nights in Rome at the Hotel Hassler for $8700.
Mr Tully was deputy mayor of Ipswich Council at the time and has been re-elected as a councillor since.
When he was asked about the helicopter trip, Mr Tully told Nine that it was ‘not a very easy thing to remember’.
Wulff was CEO of Ipswich Council at the time and is also in jail, after he was found guilty of accepting bribes of more than $240,000.
Mr Lindsay was a financial officer for Ipswich City Council at the time.
During the two-week trip, the four regularly dined at expensive restaurants, went sightseeing at the Colosseum in Rome and Pisasale took a detour with the jet to visit family in Sicily.
The trip was framed as a fact-finding mission to gather ideas for the $2 billion redevelopment of the run-down Ipswich CBD.
But an investigation by Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) found the trip was full of ‘excessive’ spending and included a ‘significant amount of non-official activity’.
The photos and itineraries were kept secret for more than 10 years but the wild details of the trip are finally public.
Former Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale (pictured), pleaded guilty to charges including receiving secret commissions, corruption, fraud, perjury, sexual assault and was sentenced to 7.5 years in jail
After the CCC investigation, 15 people were charged with 86 criminal offences, including seven Ipswich city employees or councillors.
In 2020 Pisasale pleaded guilty to charges including receiving secret commissions, corruption, fraud, perjury, sexual assault and possession of a restricted drug.
He was found guilty of extorting a Sydney taxi driver by posing as a private investigator to demand money.
He was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison.
The project to redevelop Ipswich’s CBD was to be run by Ipswich City Properties Pty Ltd, an entity set up by the council using a $50million Queensland Treasury Corporation loan and $41million of ratepayers’ money.
The four travellers were also directors of Ipswich City Properties.
Despite their civic-minded plans, the group were found to have regularly missed planned business meetings, including one with Veolia Group chairman Doug Dean.
Pisasale’s mayoral office in Ipswich City Council (pictured) was raided by police in June 2017, prompting him to resign shortly after
Pisasale throws desiccated coconut on the world’s largest lamington in 2009. He led a fact-finding mission to the Middle East and Europe in 2012 costing taxpayers $170,000 during which Ipswich Council officials stayed at luxury hotels and chartered a private jet
On the day that meeting was in the diary, the officials went to the Villers-Bretonneux Australian War Museum or went sightseeing in Paris.
A planned trip to the SCT Gasification waste to energy plant in Rome was also missed as the officials instead visited the city’s ancient Colosseum and did a guided tour of the Vatican.
At the end of the trip, they four departed entirely from the official itinerary, flying to visit Pisasale’s extended family in Sicily, Italy.
He visited family and other members of the group took a tour of the Sicilian coastline.
A 24-page pamphlet was produced as a result of the two-week trip, outlining potential ideas for the Ipswich redevelopment.
When he was asked about the helicopter trip Paul Tully told Nine that it was ‘not a very easy thing to remember’
One such idea was to turn Ipswich’s Bradfield Bridge, opened in 2010 as a link between shopping precincts on either side of the Bremer River, into a Paris-style tourist attraction.
Pisasale proposed that the people of Ipswich could attach ‘love locks’ to the Bradfield Bridge as romantic gestures as hundreds of thousands of couples have on Pont des Arts bridge in Paris.
Details about the trip, which were not made public until the Right to Information request was processed, formed part of the Queensland government’s decision to sack the entire Ipswich Council in 2018 and appoint administrators.
Ipswich’s ambitious plans to transform the city into a global destination resulted in one building being built in the mall.
In 2021, Mr Tully moved to reinstate Pisasale’s name on an Ipswich bridge and also on a road after being officially delisted.
Current Ipswich mayor Teresa Harding said the spending detailed was ‘beyond belief’.
‘How do you do that to the people of Ipswich?’ she asked.