Former Fraser Coast Regional Council CEO Lisa Desmond.
Former Fraser Coast Regional Council CEO Lisa Desmond.

Who is Lisa Desmond? Health worker MP named in parliament

UNDER parliamentary privilege yesterday Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett raised seven pressing questions surrounding the dismissal of former Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service chief executive Adrian Pennington - one of which has put Lisa Desmond back into the limelight.

Ms Desmond is the Wide Bay health service's director of information services and performance analytics and former CEO of the Fraser Coast Council.

During his explosive speech yesterday Mr Bennett posed the question, "was the appointment of Lisa Desmond former CEO Fraser Coast Council anything to do with Mr Pennington's dismissal?"

The NewsMail contacted Ms Desmond this morning but she declined to comment.

In August, the Fraser Coast Chronicle (sister paper to the NewsMail) reported that Ms Desmond was recruited to the health service following an open and extensive recruitment process

"This role reports to Scott McConnel, executive director, finance and performance," a spokeswoman for the health service said.

"Prior to being appointed to the role, Ms Desmond worked as a contracted adviser to WBHHS on information systems governance, in preparation for WBHHS implementing new information and communication technologies, such as the statewide Integrated Electronic Medical Record."

Her time at the Fraser Coast Council ended in a tumultuous fashion in 2017 and was later settled in an out-of-court settlement.

In February 2017, a special meeting of the council voted in favour of removing Ms Desmond from her position after a reported ongoing feud between her and then-mayor Chris Loft.

Their relationship was described by a local government department report as contributing to a "toxic" working environment.

Nine months after councillors voted to discontinue her contract as chief executive Ms Desmond launched legal action against Fraser Coast Regional Council and its councillors in the Brisbane Supreme Court.

About a year after her dismissal, Mr Loft was also sacked from his position as mayor, with Queensland Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe saying he had exercised his power under the Local Government Act to recommend the Governor-in-Council dismiss Mr Loft.

A Crime and Corruption Commission investigation resulted in five charges against Mr Loft.

The criminal charges of computer hacking and wilfully disclosing information remain before the Hervey Bay Magistrates Court.

The Office of Director of Public Prosecutions consulted with the CCC and determined not to indict Mr Loft on one count of misconduct in relation to public office and the related offence of disclosing of official secrets.

The remaining misconduct in relation to public office charge is also progressing through the criminal courts and is expected to go to trial.

Mr Loft has maintained that his actions, during his time as mayor, were in the best interest of his staff and intends to fight the charges.



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