TED HITS BACK: MP defends mayor, calls for opponent to quit
HERVEY Bay MP Ted Sorensen has backed the Fraser Coast's embattled mayor, claiming the State Government's disciplinary action against Chris Loft is politically motivated.
He's also calling for his Labor opponent and Local Government staffer Adrian Tantari to stand down.
In an out-of-character online rant Mr Sorensen posted on his website yesterday after it was revealed Labor would be targeting the seat of Hervey Bay at the next election, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk saying she would consider adopting a "get Ted" strategy.
In his post, Mr Sorensen says he "welcomes the get Ted strategy" because it is similar to what he labelled the "get Chris Loft strategy".
He then accused the Labor Party of pursuing the region's mayor who he said had uncovered "$170 million in slush funds".
The Chronicle previously reported on Cr Loft's involvement in exposing the siphoning of $10 million each year into surplus accounts, as alleged in a leaked email from a former acting CEO.
Cr Loft has however has been reprimanded for inappropriate conduct and misconduct on numerous occasions over the past year.
It is the first time Mr Sorensen has weighed into the controversy surrounding Cr Loft, who was warned last week he could be suspended or removed from his position if he was subject to further "adverse findings".
In a statement to the Chronicle last night, Mr Sorensen said he stood by the comments on his website.
But Local Government Minister Mark Furner said the findings against Cr Loft were made by an independent tribunal and had nothing to do with politics.
Mr Furner said writing to the mayor and asking him to address his behaviour following these independent decisions was not a decision he made lightly, but it was the appropriate thing to do in accordance with the Local Government Act.
"If Mr Sorensen has a complaint he wishes to make regarding the Fraser Coast Regional Council, I encourage him to follow the correct processes through the Crime and Corruption Commission," he said.
In addition to his defence of Cr Loft, Mr Sorensen called on the Premier to stand down the ALP candidate for Hervey Bay Adrian Tantari.
The former Hervey Bay mayor said Mr Tantari had a "clear and definite conflict of interest", claiming that Mr Tantari had taken complaints against Cr Loft in his role as a regional manager with the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning.
But Mr Tantari responded to that accusation yesterday, saying Mr Sorensen was "absolutely, totally misinformed".
Mr Tantari said when he accepted the ALP's nomination five months ago, he relinquished any involvement in overseeing the Fraser Coast council.
He said that decision was made specifically to distance himself from any perceived conflict of interest.
Mr Tantari said staff in regional areas were not involved in handling complaints, which were directed to the department in Brisbane.
"This is just politicking by Mr Sorensen," Mr Tantari said.
In the same post, Mr Sorensen insinuated Deputy Mayor George Seymour and Councillor Stuart Taylor were part of a Labor attempt to "get Chris Loft," saying the strategy was "run by the Labor Party, supported by Labor sympathisers and Labor Party members who are on council".
Cr Seymour said the member for Hervey Bay should not be trying to inject party politics into the council.
"I am involved in the council because I want to help the community," he said.
"I work with other Fraser Coast councillors who are members of the LNP and One Nation - it doesn't matter.
"We work on behalf of the community."
Cr Taylor said his goal was to serve the Fraser Coast community and he wouldn't be drawn into State Government election mudslinging.
"Ted's comments are bizarre and have no substance or value," Cr Taylor said.