Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan makes the victory sign at a press conference held at Seaview Park in Bucasia. Picture: Tony Martin
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan makes the victory sign at a press conference held at Seaview Park in Bucasia. Picture: Tony Martin

Costigan’s $350K lawsuit over schoolchildren claim

A WHITSUNDAY councillor who described maverick MP Jason Costigan as someone who "should not be allowed near any school in the district" has been slapped with a $350,000 defamation suit.

The Whitsunday MP filed paperwork against Cr Michael Brunker claiming comments he allegedly made during a council meeting in Proserpine in February last year caused hurt, embarrassment and distress.

During the meeting, Whitsunday Regional Council voted unanimously to write to the Queensland Education Minister to clarify if Mr Costigan would be allowed to enter schools in the region after he was expelled by the Liberal National Party amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Documents filed in Brisbane District Court in February this year state Cr Brunker had allegedly said about Mr Costigan: " ... In the pub test of morality he should not be allowed near any school in the district".

Cr Brunker allegedly told the Australian Associated Press during an interview in February 2019 that he wanted the education minister to have procedures in place so that Mr Costigan was "not pinning badges on young students".

Whitsunday Regional councillor Michael Brunker.
Whitsunday Regional councillor Michael Brunker.

The claim also states that during an interview with The Australian, Cr 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 claims the comments Cr Brunker made during the meeting and later, to media outlets, carried the false and defamatory meaning that he was and is "a person who posed a threat to the schoolchildren", was a person of bad character and lacked moral probity.

Cr Brunker was unaware of the lawsuit against him when contacted by the Daily Mercury for comment yesterday.

No date for the hearing has been set.

Last week, Mr Costigan called for the council to apologise over the meeting comments and for councillors Brunker, John Collins and Jan Clifford as well as Mayor Andrew Willcox to resign.

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan walking in Seaview Park in Bucasia. Picture: Tony Martin
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan walking in Seaview Park in Bucasia. Picture: Tony Martin

At the time, Cr Brunker said he had "nothing to apologise for", while Cr Clifford said she had apologised to the Whitsunday MP on several occasions.

Cr Willcox declined to comment and Cr Collins was contacted but did not respond by the time of publication.

The council's move to seek clarification about Mr Costigan's attendance at schools came after LNP members aired allegations of complaints by women against the Whitsunday MP in Queensland Parliament.

Mr Costigan sued one of the women, Heather McKeown, in the Brisbane District Court on January 23 for $350,000, claiming her complaint to the LNP and seven posts she allegedly made on Facebook left him embarrassed and distressed.

Ms McKeown has since withdrawn her complaint and apologised.



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