It has been revealed that Australian government workers from four small towns spent outrageous amounts on luxury ‘study’ trips, including private charter jets and golden hotel rooms.
In 2012, the then mayor of Ipswich, Paul Pisa, embarked on the taxpayer-funded trip of a lifetime with council colleagues Paul Tully, Carl Wolff and Jim Lindsay.
In their surprise spending trip, the group used $170,000 of taxpayer funds to stay at world-famous hotels in London, Paris and the United Arab Emirates, and shelled out $27,000 on a private charter jet.
Pisale was sentenced to at least seven and a half years in prison in 2020 on charges of extortion, fraud and sexual abuse.
His colleague Karl Wolff is also in prison for accepting bribes.
A luxury world ‘study’ trip funded by Ipswich ratepayers, including a private charter jet, has been revealed to have been outrageously spent by public servants from four small towns in Australia.
The quartet spent $170,000, including $27,000 on private charter jets, and thousands more each time they stayed at 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, the four of them departed from the official itinerary altogether, flying to Syracuse, Sicily to visit Pisasol’s family (pictured, Pisasol in Sicily during a 2012 trip).
The walls of the rooms at Emirates Palace Hotel are decorated with real gold leaf and the fittings are made of Swarovski crystals.
The details were made public after Nine submitted an application under the right to information.
Back in 2012, Pisasale, Tully, Wulff and Lindsay flew to Australia on the mayor’s birthday and flew business class to Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Hotel, the most expensive hotel in the world since it opened back in 2005.
The walls of the hotel rooms are decorated with real gold leaf and the fittings are made of Swarovski crystals.
It was once described as ‘the opulence to end all opulence’.
Pisacelle took the taxpayer-funded trip of a lifetime with council colleagues Paul Tully, Carl Wolff and Jim Lindsay (pictured together during a helicopter ride over high tea at the 7-star Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai).
During the group’s $10,000 two-night stay at Emirates Palace, they took an $8,000 helicopter joyride to Dubai’s 7-star Burj Al Arab Hotel for a $575 high tea (pictured, Burj Al Arab Hotel).
Four men spent two nights in Paris for $18,000 at the Hotel Barriere Le Fouquet in Paris (pictured, Hotel de Fouquet).
PISALE POSSE’s taxpayer-funded 2012 world tour
Ipswich City Council public servants Paul Pisale (Mayor), Paul Tully (Deputy Mayor), Karl Wolff (Council CEO) and Jim Lindsay (Finance Officer) went on a taxpayer-funded overseas trip to gather ideas for redeveloping Ipswich City in distress. 2012.
Stops on their journey include:
- Abu Dhabi (UAE) – 2 nights at Emirates Palace Hotel: $10,600
- Dubai – Helicopter ride for high tea at Burj Al Arab Hotel: $595
- Europe – 6 days on a private charter jet: $27,600
- London – 2 nights at the Savoy Hotel: $14,200
- Paris – 2 nights at Hotel Barriere Le Fouquet: $18,000
- Rome – 3 nights at Hotel Hassler: $8,700
During a two-night stay at an Abu Dhabi hotel, they also took an $8,000 helicopter joyride for $10,000 for a $575 high tea at the 7-star Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai.
Two of the group also played a round of golf at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where a round today costs A$400.
After their trip to the UAE, the group went to London to stay at the Savoy Hotel – racking up a bill of $14,200.
Then at the Hotel Barriere Le Fouquet in Paris 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 since been re-elected as a councillor.
When he was asked about the helicopter trip, Mr Tully told Nine it wasn’t a very easy thing to miss.
Wolff was CEO of Ipswich Council at the time and was also in prison, when he was convicted of taking more than $240,000 in bribes.
Mr Lindsay was then finance officer for Ipswich City Council.
During the two-week trip, the four regularly dined at expensive restaurants, visited the Colosseum in Rome and jetted off to Pisa to visit family in Sicily.
The trip was planned as a fact-finding mission to gather ideas for a $2 billion redevelopment of the run-down Ipswich CBD.
But an investigation by Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) found the trip was fraught with ‘exorbitant’ expenses and involved a ‘large amount of non-official activity’.
The photos and itinerary were kept secret for more than 10 years but the wildest details of the trip are finally public.
Former Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisale (pictured), pleaded guilty to charges including receiving secret commissions, corruption, fraud, perjury, sexual harassment and was jailed for 7.5 years.
Following a CCC investigation, 15 people were charged with 86 criminal offences, including seven Ipswich City staff or councillors.
In 2020, Pisase pleaded guilty to charges including receiving secret commissions, corruption, forgery, perjury, sexual misconduct and possession of prohibited drugs.
He was found guilty of soliciting money from a Sydney taxi driver posing as a private investigator.
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 $50 million Queensland Treasury Corporation loan and $41 million of ratepayer money.
Four passengers were also directors of Ipswich City Properties.
Despite their civic-minded plans, the group was found regularly missing scheduled business meetings, including one with Veolia Group Chairman Doug Dean.
Pisasale’s mayoral office at Ipswich City Council (pictured) was raided by police in June 2017, prompting him to resign shortly afterwards.
In 2009, Pisasse threw a coconut that had been laid on the world’s largest lamington. He led a fact-finding mission to the Middle East and Europe in 2012 at a cost to taxpayers of $170,000, during which Ipswich council officials stayed in luxury hotels and chartered private jets.
On the day that meeting was in the diary, the officers visited the Villers-Bretonneux Australian War Museum or went for a walk in Paris.
A planned visit to Rome’s SCT gasification waste-to-energy plant was also missed as officials toured the city’s ancient Colosseum and took a guided tour of the Vatican.
At the end of the trip, the four of them departed from the official itinerary entirely, flying to visit Pisasale’s extended family in Sicily, Italy.
He visited family and other members of the group visited the Sicilian coast.
A 24-page pamphlet was produced as a result of the two-week trip, outlining possible ideas for redeveloping Ipswich.
When asked about the helicopter ride, Paul Tully told Nine that it wasn’t an easy thing to miss.
One such idea was the opening of Bradfield Bridge in Ipswich in 2010 as a link between shopping areas on either side of the Bremer River, turning it into a Parisian-style tourist attraction.
Pisay proposed that the people of Ipswich could attach ‘love locks’ to Bradfield Bridge as a romantic gesture by the hundreds of thousands of couples on the Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris.
Details about the trip, which were not made public pending a Right to Information request, formed part of the Queensland Government’s decision in 2018 to sack the entire Ipswich council and appoint administrators.
Ipswich’s ambitious plan to turn the town into a global destination resulted in a building on the mall.
In 2021, Mr Tully moved to reinstate the Pisachall name on Ipswich Bridge and also on the road after it was officially delisted.
Current Ipswich mayor Teresa Harding said the spending details were ‘beyond belief’.
‘How do you do this to the people of Ipswich?’ she asked.