A leaked email from CEO Lisa Desmond is circulating.
A leaked email from CEO Lisa Desmond is circulating. Valerie Horton

EXPLOSIVE: Council CEO says 'we're floundering' in email

AN explosive email sent from Fraser Coast Regional Council chief executive officer Lisa Desmond said she and other senior directors were "floundering" and "failing basic legislative responsibilities".

The email, dated March 16, three days before this year's local government election, was sent to four members of the council's executive management team, including Peter Smith, Alexis Hill, Wayne Sweeney and Davendra Naidu.

In the email, which was sent to the Chronicle this week, Ms Desmond asked the directors if they were available for a meeting.

"The wheels have fallen off this bus, there is way too many matters that are falling through the cracks. No follow up, no accountability, no responsibility and urgent action is required now to get this organisation back on track," she wrote.

Ms Desmond was contacted yesterday to discuss the email, but declined to respond to a series of questions sent to the council by the Chronicle.

Fraser Coast mayor Chris Loft, however, confirmed its legitimacy by saying he was aware of the email, which had been widely circulated on social media.

He said Steve Johnson, who was appointed as a State Government advisor to the council earlier this year, had uncovered the email during his time on the Fraser Coast.

"It was a jaw-dropper," Cr Loft said.

"I had never seen it until the advisor showed it to me."

The email appears to have been referenced in a report regarding the State Government's intervention into the Fraser Coast council, dated October 31.

The report stated that "as early as March 2016, the chief executive officer identified areas of concern for immediate action within council in terms of operations and compliance with governance requirements".

Cr Loft said he had sighted the series of questions that had been sent to Ms Desmond by the Chronicle, asking for an explanation as to what she meant when she said the council was failing basic legislative responsibilities.

"I think she needs to answer these questions," he said.

Cr Loft also questioned the timing of the email, asking if Ms Desmond wanted to prepare in case a new mayor was elected.

Cr Loft was elected ahead of former Mayor Gerard O'Connell in the election race and has had a fractured relationship with Ms Desmond since.

"I think she knew there could potentially be a new mayor and this email was saying 'we need to straighten out these things'," Cr Loft said.

"All this has to come out."

Cr Loft said the region could not go forward unless there was "truth, honesty and open disclosure".

"She has to realise that she receives direction from the mayor," Cr Loft said, adding that his relationship with the chief executive had been challenging since he first took office.

He said he felt she had been pushing against him since day one.

It was also recently revealed that Cr Loft had asked and received permission to access the CEO's emails without her knowledge.

He claims he never went through with the option of looking at any of her correspondence.

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