CEO's departure 'opens door to fresh direction': Loft
LISA Desmond's chair was empty during the Fraser Coast Regional Council's special meeting on Monday
Now she'll never sit in it again.
Ms Desmond, believed to be on leave at the time, was not in the chamber.
Crs Loft, Hansen, Maddern, Sanderson, Light, Chapman and Seymour all voted to terminate the contract, with Crs Truscott, Lewis, Everard and Taylor voting against the motion.
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"Councillors, I hope it's fair to say that we all run for public office because we'd like to think that we can do things to make life better for the people and communities that we represent," Cr Loft said during his tabling of the motion.
"What we might lose sight of is that local government politicians... become responsible at a strategic level for the health, wellbeing, growth and development of the council workforce.
"It has now become apparent at an operational level, the culture of our organisation needs to change, and the change needs to occur as a matter of priority.
"If this does not occur, ultimately council's level of service to our community will fall to an unacceptable level."
He also admitted it was "no secret" that the working relationship between himself and Ms Desmond was "virtually non-existent", but in his view "the CEO is not the person to implement the change required".
But it struck a different chord with Cr Lewis, who was the only councillor to speak to the Chronicle following the CEO's dismissal. "It will certainly create some change. I don't believe the CEO's performance is the totality of the council's concerns," he said.
"We've still got a long way to go to improve the culture. It's a very sad day."
But he mentioned it was not a shock that things turned out the way they did.
"It's been an issue which the mayor has been keeping on the boil for many, many months; I guess eventually he's had his way," Cr Lewis said.
"The mayor's achieved what he's been trying to achieve for a very long time."
With Ms Desmond's contract pending renewal in 2018, she will receive payment in lieu of notice, estimated to be worth thousands of dollars.
Cr Loft declined to speak to the media, instead offering a statement regarding the termination of her contract.
"Lisa's departure opens the door to fresh directions for council under new leadership," the statement read.
Council confirmed they would start looking for a new CEO immediately.
Monday was not the first attempt to dismiss the CEO. Mayor Loft moved a mayoral minute to dismiss her in December 2016.
The motion was defeated 7-2, with Crs Light and Maddern absent and Cr Hansen abstaining from the vote.
But yesterday's motion marked a change for Crs Seymour and Sanderson, who had previously voted against her dismissal in 2016.
Both councillors were contacted for comment.
The relationship between the Mayor and CEO was highlighted as "the single-biggest issue" facing the council when the State Government advisor's report was handed down in October last year.
The report also found the council had "a culture of control, favouritism, a lack of trust, a fear of reprisal, low morale and a toxic working environment".