North Queensland MP serves up defamation suit

 

A controversial North Queensland MP has served a long-term rival with a defamation suit on the eve of the state election.

Jason Costigan's legal team officially served Labor's Burdekin candidate Mike Brunker for comments he made as a Whitsunday councillor after Mr Costigan was ousted from the Liberal National Party.

The NQ First leader was unceremoniously booted from the LNP after allegations of sexual harassment were made against him.

A complaint was made alleging that Mr Costigan behaved inappropriately while on a remote farm with a young woman. He vehemently denied the claims, and sued for defamation.

In February 2019, Whitsunday Regional Council voted unanimously to "clarify" with Education Minister Grace Grace if Mr Costigan would be able to attend any schools following the allegations.

"Council resolves to write to the Education Minister to clarify if the independent Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan will be allowed to attend schools in his electorate and if so what protocols or procedure are going to be implemented to protect students, teachers and principals who might not want him to attend," the motion said.

The complaint against Mr Costigan, which was sent to the LNP executive, has since been withdrawn and an apology issued.

 

Mike Brunker.
Mike Brunker.

Mr Brunker was served about 4pm yesterday, taking the proceedings against the Labor candidate to the next stage. The paperwork was originally filed in April this year.

Mr Brunker confirmed he had been served and said Whitsunday Regional Council lawyers would be dealing with the case. The claim states that during an interview with The Australian, Mr Brunker allegedly said if Mr Costigan was present at a school, the council wanted to make sure "he can be required to leave".

Mr Costigan has claimed the comments Mr Brunker made during the meeting and later to media outlets, carried the false and defamatory meaning that he was a threat to schoolchildren.

The pair have had an ongoing feud that began before Mr Costigan was elected as Whitsunday MP.

In January, Mr Costigan sued one of the women who made allegations against him, Heather McKeown, in the Brisbane District Court for $350,000, claiming her complaint to the LNP and a number of posts she allegedly made on Facebook left him embarrassed and distressed. Her complaint has since been withdrawn.

Originally published as North Queensland MP serves up defamation suit