Fraser Coast Regional Council - first official meeting in the Maryborough Council Chambers. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle
Fraser Coast Regional Council - first official meeting in the Maryborough Council Chambers. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle Alistair Brightman

Hundreds to protest at Fraser Coast council meeting

COMMUNITY tensions with the Fraser Coast Regional Council appear to have reached a boiling point, with a community protest organised for Wednesday's council meeting.

The announcement comes following the release of the advisor's report into the council finding numerous instances of "dysfunctionality" and the revelation that mayor Chris Loft accessed the email account of chief executive officer Lisa Desmond without her knowledge.

But the protestors are calling for the removal of Ms Desmond as the CEO, or the removal of the entire council should their demands not be met. Organiser Michael Weekes said there was clear evidence of a toxic relationship between the pair.

"We need to recognise that the mayor is the elected representative and the CEO is a staff member," he said.

"It's clearly two ways here; Chris Loft has clearly got faults in his management style and ability to build consensus, but whatever you think of the mayor's failings and he is still the elected representative on a mandate."

Mr Weekes believes that it's unlikely they will be able to rebuild their relationship, given the serious history between the pair and the issues emerging during the local government election.

But he identified more issues with the council, highlighting the "bitterness" between councillors and stating that "the community have had enough."

"The campaign was very negative and got quite ugly - it's no surprise they can't work together," he said.

"They've had professional mediators and they've not been able to rebuilt the relationship - so if a mediator can't help them rebuild then they're a bit of a lost cause.

"Clearly there's no communication either way between parties...unless it improves the only result is that one or the other will be going to clear the decks a little bit and start a new relationship."

He said "hundreds" were expected to turn up for the protest on Wednesday.

Communication between Cr Loft and Ms Desmond was identified in the Advisor's report as the "single biggest issue the council continues to face", with the nature of email exchanges "inconsistent with furthering a professional working relationship."

Ms Desmond was contacted for comment by the Chronicle.

Following the tabling of the report, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the government was prepared to act if the situation continued to deteriorate.

"Local government representatives...(need to) put the community interests ahead of childish squabbling and indulgent, egotistical behaviour," she said last week.



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