Fraser Coast Regional Council meeting - Mayor Chris Loft.
Fraser Coast Regional Council meeting - Mayor Chris Loft. Alistair Brightman

Complaints against Cr Loft and Chapman resolved

FRASER Coast mayor Chris Loft has found himself in hot water for the fourth time since he became a councillor.

And the latest controversy came after he publicly criticised other councillors when he issued a press release just before Christmas.

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Complaints made against Cr Loft have been dealt with by Director General, Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning Frankie Carroll.

Complaints also levelled against Cr Denis Chapman were dealt with by the Department of Local Government.

Both complaints are detailed on the councillor complaints register.

Cr Loft's breaches related to his criticism of fellow councillors Stuart Taylor, George Seymour and David Lewis in a media release issued on November 28.

In the release, Cr Loft accused fellow councillors of "openly undermining my efforts and grossly disrespecting the Office of Mayor".

Another breach involved the mayor's comments to the ABC over Crs Taylor and Seymour's membership of the Labor Party.

The Director General's office found that Cr Loft had breached the Fraser Coast Regional Council's Councillor Code of Conduct "when he engaged in public criticism of councillors when he distributed the open letter to various media outlets".

Mr Carroll made orders relating to sections 181(2)(a) and (b) of the Act, which reprimanded Cr Loft for the inappropriate conduct and made an order that further instances be referred to the review panel as misconduct.

In February 2014, Cr Loft was found guilty of inappropriate conduct after sending an email which described Fraser Coast Opportunities as a cancer that needed to be cut out. That same month he was found to have disclosed information about a vacancy in FCO prior to the position being advertised.

Fraser Coast Regional Council meeting, Maryborough Chambers - Councillor Denis Chapman.
Fraser Coast Regional Council meeting, Maryborough Chambers - Councillor Denis Chapman. Valerie Horton

In August 2016, he was again found guilty after he publicly claimed two of his fellow councillors had a conflict of interest with the proposed sports precinct.

Cr Chapman was referred to the DILGP on November 23 for failing to declare a perceived conflict of interest at the May 25, 2016 council meeting, where he participated in discussion and voted on a motion to remove parking fees in the Hervey Bay Hospital carpark. He had failed to declare his wife worked at the hospital.

Cr Chapman was counselled about the misconduct by the Regional Conduct Review Panel and forced to read a statement admitting the error at the December 2016 meeting.

"I don't regret what I did; I didn't realise what I was doing could have been a perceived conflict of interest, but I'll take it on board and be more careful now," he said. "This has cost the government $25,000 ... a trivial little complaint like this has cost us this much."

Cr Loft was contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of going to press. A response was sought from the Local Government Association of Queensland yesterday.

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