THIRD STRIKE: Fraser Coast mayor Chris Loft has been disciplined by the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning for his third instance of inappropriate conduct.
THIRD STRIKE: Fraser Coast mayor Chris Loft has been disciplined by the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning for his third instance of inappropriate conduct. Alistair Brightman

Mayor found guilty of third inappropriate conduct charge

FRASER Coast mayor Chris Loft has found himself in hot water for the third time since his election, after being found guilty of inappropriate conduct by the Department of Local Government's tribunal.

Cr Loft was reprimanded over his access to former chief executive Lisa Desmond's emails between December 2015 and June 2016, with the department concluding its findings last month and making a ruling last week.

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By law, repeated inappropriate conduct must be referred to the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal and Regional Conduct Review Panels if three orders are issued to a councillor within a year.

A spokesperson for the DILGP said several complaints about alleged misconduct by Cr Loft had been referred to tribunal, but declined to specify which matters.

Section 181A of the LGA states a record of all complaints and their outcomes must be publicly available from the council.

When the Chronicle requested a copy of the register on Wednesday, no details of Cr Loft's latest charge were available but an updated register has since been released by the Fraser Coast Regional Council.

"We're moving forward, we're moving on," Cr Loft said.

"It (the register) was updated as soon as possible."

Minister for Local Government Mark Furner said he was not able to comment on the specifics, as they were "matters for the independent Discipline Tribunal and Regional Conduct Review Panel to deliberate."

"What I can say is the residents of the Fraser Coast deserve transparent and accountable local government, and I will be taking a very keen interest in the outcome of the independent arbiter's determination of these matters," he said.

Emails posted by the Fraser Coast Regional Council on their website last year revealed Cr Loft corresponded with executive staff for secret access to Ms Desmond's inbox while she was on leave.

Cr Loft's second reprimand followed comments to councillors surrounding the Sport Precinct in May 2016 and issuing media statements that criticised several councillors in December 2016.

Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders said the council needed to start working inside the Local Government Act.

"The mayor cannot run the council like it's his own plaything; he has to follow the rules and regulations set out by the Act," he said.


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