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

Business leaders call on govt to decide on mayor's future

FRASER Coast business leaders have united to call on the State Government to make a decision on the future of mayor Chris Loft to lift a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the region.

It follows Cr Loft being threatened with suspension and now dismissal by two different Local Government ministers in the last 67 days.

The suspension notice was issued by former Local Government Minister Mark Furner on December 5 last year.

New minister Stirling Hinchliffe revoked the notice and issued a notice of intention to dismiss Cr Loft on January 25.

But the Fraser Coast's Chamber of Commerce presidents want the State Government to make a decision to let the region move forward and focus on the future.

Hervey Bay Chamber president Sandra Holebrook told the Chronicle the situation was creating a "reduction in people willing to invest in the region".

She called on the State Government to "put on their big boy pants and make a decision".

"They're (the State Government) essentially holding us hostage with their lack of decision," Ms Holebrook said.

"It's not about what the decision is, it's about getting the decision made.

"There's definitely uncertainty in areas of the community with the fact we have an outstanding matter with the government on the current leadership.

"We stumbled through the end of 2017 with a lot of indecision, so we want to get on a positive stance."

While Ms Holebrook said business was usually slow on the Coast when school resumed, she said State Government was responsible for a feeling of uncertainty and confusion in the community.

"We don't need things amplifying that," she said.

Maryborough Chamber president Lance Stone said dragging the decision out was a bad look for the entire Fraser Coast.

"I heard Ray Hadley talking on the radio about the trouble the mayor's in, this is the national press we don't need for the Fraser Coast," Mr Stone said.

"We need to get back to business.

"I'm very much looking forward to a decision that resolves this matter."

When asked about his decision on Cr Loft's future, Mr Hinchliffe said there was a process he was following in reaching his decision.

Mr Hinchliffe told the Chronicle almost three weeks the decision on Mayor Loft was a matter of priority.

"We need to remember that we are dealing with a person here," Mr Hinchliffe said.

"Cr Loft deserves my full attention to be focused on the lengthy submission he provided in response to my show cause notice.

"It's no small matter, dealing with someone's reputation and future.

"To be clear, the matters I am dealing with have nothing to do with any investigation or charges by the Crime and Corruption Commission."

Mr Hinchliffe said Cr Loft had an "extraordinary" number of complaints made against him.

"Furthermore, there are certain matters raised in Cr Loft's submission on which I've had to seek advice - I have now done that," he said.

A spokesman from premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's office said "the premier has complete confidence in the way the matter has been handled".

"There are many legal issues that must be given appropriate and careful consideration," the spokesman said.

Cr Loft was contacted for comment, but did not respond before deadline.

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