Cr Mike Brunker says until he is served the lawsuit, he is “not being sued”.
Cr Mike Brunker says until he is served the lawsuit, he is “not being sued”.

Brunker responds to Costigan’s $350K defamation lawsuit

COUNCILLOR MIKE Brunker has addressed claims that Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan has filed a defamation suit against him, saying he is yet to be served with the lawsuit documents.

The documents were filed in Brisbane District Court in February this year, however Cr Brunker says they have not been officially served on him.

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

Cr Brunker was initially unaware of the lawsuit against him when contacted by the Daily Mercury for comment last week, but this week told the Bowen Independent that until he had been served the documents, he "is not being sued".

"I have not been served any documents. Officially, at this point in time I am not being sued.

"I'll just wait for my day in court."

Cr Brunker said that while the documents may have been filed, he was "disappointed" that the situation could be reported on, before he was officially served with the lawsuit.

Mr Costigan said that the case was currently with his legal team.

During the meeting in February last year that Mr Costigan refers to in the documents lodged with the court, 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.

One of the women has since dropped her complaint.

The 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"

The claim also alleges that during an interview with The Australian, Cr Brunker 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.

No date for the hearing has been set.

Earlier this month, 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.

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, she has since dropped her complaint.