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Fraser Coast faces long wait on the future of mayor Loft

Fraser Coast Regional Council Mayor, Chris Loft.
Fraser Coast Regional Council Mayor, Chris Loft. Valerie Horton

THE Fraser Coast faces a lengthy wait to find out about the future of mayor Chris Loft, after a year marred by internal dysfunction, infighting and leaks within the council.

Despite issuing a notice of intention to suspend Cr Loft last week, the State Government is unlikely to make their decision until new Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe returns from an overseas holiday.

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This is despite numerous warnings since November last year, with former Local Government Minister Mark Furner, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and even Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stepping in to rebuke the council.

Mr Hinchliffe will return to Australia in January.

The Chronicle understands Cr Loft has since made his submission, which was being reviewed by the recently appointed Mr Hinchliffe through the week.

But council's CEO Ken Diehm has slammed the State Government for their inaction.

In a statement, he told the Chronicle it was "disappointing" a decision was not made prior to the minister going on leave.

"This inaction means both the mayor, council and the community are held in limbo until he returns from holidays," Mr Diehm said.

Mr Furner announced he would issue the notice of intention to suspend on December 5.

Just days after notice was given to Cr Loft, Mr Hinchliffe was made the new Local Government Minister when the Labor government declared a victory in the State Election and a cabinet reshuffle followed.

Cr Loft took to social media on December 10, asking his supporters to email Mr Furner with letters of support.

A spokesman for the Palaszczuk Government said there was no delay in bringing the matter to conclusion.

"In accordance with the law the Minister is required to fully consider the submission from the Mayor," the spokesman said.

"The Local Government Act specifies that under these circumstances the Minister is required to "take a reasonable period of time" to consider the submission, which was received on Tuesday, alongside the findings of the tribunal and panel."

"At all times during this matter the Palaszczuk Government and Local Government Ministers have acted precisely in accordance with the requirements of the legislation, followed the specified procedures and timeframes and applied the due diligence required under the Act."

The saga is the latest in a difficult year for the council and the mayor, who is due to face court next month.

Cr Loft was arrested and charged by the Crime and Corruption Commission on November 30.

Cr Loft's lawyer said his client will fight the charges.

Topics:  chris loft fccouncil fraser coast regional council mark furner state government stirling hinchliffe



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