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'Get on with the job': Local Govt minister warns council

MARK Furner had a simple warning for the Fraser Coast Regional Council yesterday: "Get on with the job."

The Minister for Local Government yesterday urged the council to "focus on the needs of the community and the delivery of council services".

This was after an explosive council meeting where Fraser Coast Mayor Chris Loft apologised for "overstepping" his position and six of his colleagues referred Cairns MP Rob Pyne to the parliamentary ethics committee over a document leak.

VIDEO: Mayor makes his second public apology at meeting

By yesterday morning the council was already dealing with another controversy after Cr Loft posted a video on Facebook with a message of support for Mr Pyne who used parliamentary privilege to table an email between the former interim CEO and the mayor.

In the post on his personal Facebook page, Cr Loft said it was "dissapointing (sic) that six councillors once again voted to refer Mr Rob Pyne to an ethics committee for simply speaking the truth."

He compared the actions of Mr Pyne to Toni Hoffman's actions during the investigation of Dr Jayant Patel, which exposed his history of medical negligence at the Bundaberg Base Hospital in 2005.

He went further to suggest Mr Pyne should be thanked for his "bravery".

The contents of the post, which has since been deleted, conflicts with comments previously made by CEO Ken Diehm.

Just last week he criticised the actions of Mr Pyne, which he said had a negative impact on his staff.

In a statement to the Chronicle yesterday Mr Diehm said Cr Loft's comments "do not reflect the views of council or the administration".

"The Mayor and I enjoy a healthy and constructive relationship, from time to time there are things that we do not agree on, but we deal with these in a mature and respectful way," Mr Diehm said.

"The Mayor understands that my role is not to serve him, but to serve the Council as a whole.

"This does not affect our working relationship and we respect each other's very different roles and responsibilities."

Crs Denis Chapman, Rolf Light and Chris Loft voted against the referral of Mr Pyne to the ethics committee.

Cr Chapman called the motion a "witch hunt" and said the public deserved to know what was happening in council.

Mr Pyne hit back at councillors on Wednesday, calling them "slow learners" over their second referral to the ethics committee.

He was previously referred in May for tabling council's organisational review.

During the meeting, Cr Loft also apologised for a misconduct complaint that was upheld by a review panel.

He said he agreed with the new process proposed by the Mr Furner to appoint an independent assessor to handle councillor complaints.

Mr Furner said the government was consulting with councils and the Local Government Association of Queensland over the proposed reforms.

Topics:  fccouncil fccouncilmeet fraser coast regional council



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