Minister for Local Government Stirling Hinchliffe outside Maryborough City Hall.
Minister for Local Government Stirling Hinchliffe outside Maryborough City Hall. Alistair Brightman

NO REGRETS: Minister stands by decision to sack Loft

QUEENSLAND'S Local Government Minister has defended his controversial decision to sack ex-Fraser Coast mayor Chris Loft, saying the council's relationship with the State Government is better than ever.

This is despite the state's corruption watchdog dropping several of its original charges against Mr Loft, instead opting to pursue him on three charges, including one count of misconduct in a public office.

Stirling Hinchliffe divided voters when he announced on February 16 last year Mr Loft would be stood down in the wake of 11 complaints about inappropriate conduct and misconduct during his time as mayor.

The complaints, detailed on the council's public register, range from public criticism of his fellow councillors and then-CEO to disclosing personal information about the former CEO's contract.

During his whirlwind tour of Maryborough yesterday, Mr Hinchliffe stood by his decision and said he could "see the benefits and outcome".

He said the decision to dismiss Mr Loft was not related to the charges laid by the Crime and Corruption Commission.

"The decision made to recommend the dismissal of Mr Loft was not made on the basis of charges pending before the courts but on the basis of his behaviour and the issues relating to the (council's) Code of Conduct and his conduct," Mr Hinchliffe told the Chronicle.

"In essence, I see the benefits and the outcome through the great relationship we have with the Fraser Coast Regional Council and the good outcomes we're seeing as a consequence.

"I think the council is working well for the community and doing a job that is delivering on good outcomes.

"That's what we need to see and that's the measure any decisions made in relation to local governance should be measured upon."

Mr Loft applied for a judicial review of Mr Hinchliffe's decision in the Supreme Court that same month, but it was dismissed in May.

In court documents, he claimed the minister's decision broke the rules of natural justice.

Mr Hinchliffe denied these suggestions yesterday.

Mr Loft was arrested and charged by the CCC in November 2017, following a five-month probe of the Fraser Coast council.

His charge of misconduct in a public office is scheduled for trial at the Hervey Bay District Court in October.

Mr Loft was contacted for comment.