By OSCAR PERRI
New Mayor Matt Paterson says he is “entitled” to having his legal bills covered by council in the case being brought against him by election runner-up Cr Jimmy Cocking.
And he takes shots at Cr Cocking about vote counts and the absence of scrutineers.
Meanwhile Cr Cocking is taking the matter to the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) in order to have a full recount, rather than a “partial recheck”, that has resulted in Mr Paterson sworn in as Mayor of the 14th Council, and has the support of NTEC commissioner Ian Loganathan in his decision.
When asked whether he approached council, or was approached by them in regards to paying his legal costs, Mayor Paterson says he does not know of any examples of this happening in the past or elsewhere and “can’t recall the correct details.
“I’m just a bystander in all this really.”
“Jimmy is contesting it as an unsuccessful mayoral candidate.
“He’s not contesting it as a councillor, he’s contesting because he didn’t win the election,” Mayor Paterson says.
“What NTCAT are hearing is Jimmy contesting the end result of the election, and that end result is that I’m the Mayor.
“That’s why my name is on there, it’s not Matt Paterson the citizen, it’s Mayor Matt Paterson who’s having legal action against him.”
The reason Mayor Paterson is being financially supported by council falls under section 57 of the NT Local Government Act 2019, which, in its entirety, reads:
Protection from liability:
1. A person is not civilly or criminally liable for an act done or omitted to be done by the person in good faith in the exercise of a power or performance of a function as a member of a council.
Any civil liability that would, but for this section, attach to a member of a council, attaches instead to the council.
In this section: Exercise of a power includes the purported exercise of the power. Performance of a function includes the purported performance of the function.
Support of Mayor Paterson did not need to be approved by elected members, but rather CEO Robert Jennings.
The other newly elected Councillors only found out after being told by Cr Cocking, who saw on the legal documents that the council’s law firm was representing the Mayor.
This morning Cr Cocking told ABC radio that he is “concerned” by council footing the bill for Mayor Paterson.
“I’m feeling pretty mixed about it, between frustrated and upset.”
Cr Cocking has launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for legal fees and flights which has already reached over $7,600 of his $10,000 goal, and will be reimbursing donors if he wins and is awarded costs.
He said that it is “not a great way to start” the new council.
Mayor Paterson says he does not expect it to have a negative impact on the relationships between elected members, including Cr Cocking.
He says more information will become apparent once the case NTCAT begins on October 20.
“Hear the real story about how many times it has been counted and what’s getting put forward by other candidates about what hasn’t happened,” says the Mayor.
“I think that’s an important part that’s not getting reported on from any media about what the scrutineers did and didn’t do and who attended when they should have been.
“My scrutineers didn’t have any issue with the way the process went, because my scrutineers were there.”
PHOTO scrutineering room in Alice Springs.