13/04/2022 - 15:46

Ex-Cowan candidate's party dispute dismissed

13/04/2022 - 15:46

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Former Labor candidate Tristan Cockman has had his lawsuit against key WA Labor figures dismissed, one year after claiming he was unfairly sidelined during preselection.

Ex-Cowan candidate's party dispute dismissed
Tristan Cockman launched the court action against former state secretary Patrick Gorman (pictured), former assistant secretary Lenda Oshalem, former president Peter Tinley and current state secretary Timothy Picton.

Former federal Labor candidate Tristan Cockman has had his lawsuit against key figures in the political party dismissed, one year after he took to the Supreme Court claiming he was unfairly sidelined during preselection.

Last year, Mr Cockman, a property lawyer, launched a Supreme Court action against former state secretary Patrick Gorman, former assistant secretary Lenda Oshalem, former president Peter Tinley and current state secretary Timothy Picton.

In it, he claimed damages for what he described as a breach of the state’s branch rules which governed the preselection process.

After failing to secure the seat of Cowan in 2013, Mr Cockman sought preselection for the same seat in the 2016 federal election - which was later won by counter-terrorism expert and current MP Anne Aly.

At the time, Mr Cockman had told the media he blamed being overlooked on his refusal to join a faction.

According to details outlined to the court during the hearing in October, the defendants claimed representatives of the WA Labor Party received adverse allegations against Mr Cockman, namely that he was telling the public he had already been selected.

Based on a report presented by state secretary Patrick Gorman, the Administrative Committee called for further nominations.

One month later, the committee opted not to accept Mr Cockman’s expression of interest.

Mr Cockman claimed Mr Gorman, Ms Oshalem and Mr Tinley breached branch rules by preventing electors from voting at the time allocated by the state executive on two occasions, acting beyond their power and disrupting natural justice.

In July last year, the four defendants pushed for summary judgment and for the action to be dismissed based on precedent, arguing that branch rules were not justiciable.

In a determination handed down by the Supreme Court today, Justice Jeremy Curthoys agreed, finding the branch rules were in fact not justiciable and granting the defendants’ requested summary judgment.

Subsequently, he dismissed Mr Cockman's claims without trial.

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