High Court gives green light for Bendigo Council to pursue councillor and other individual for $19,000 in legal fees

MONEY OWED: Julie Hoskin and another individual are being pursued by Bendigo council over legal costs relating to the Bendigo mosque.
MONEY OWED: Julie Hoskin and another individual are being pursued by Bendigo council over legal costs relating to the Bendigo mosque.

The City of Greater Bendigo has been given the green light by the High Court to pursue almost $20,000 in legal costs from two anti-mosque protesters, one of whom is councillor Julie Hoskin.

The council in November lodged a financial claim to the High Court relating to costs it incurred fighting legal challenges to stop the city’s first mosque.

High Court documents revealed the council valued their costs at $32,549, which has since undergone a tax assessment by the court, who reevaluated the amount owing to the council to be $19,059.86. 

Councillor Hoskin and Kathleen Howard were listed as lead applicants when the High Court rejected an attempt to appeal the decision to approve the mosque in June 2016, and are both named on subsequent High Court documentation.

The High Court in June 2016 ordered Bendigo council and Australian Islamic Mission’s legal costs be paid by the applicants.

Councillor Hoskin in December confirmed she paid AIM’s costs of $5000 in late 2016 but suggested she was “pressured” into it.

The High Court confirmed the Supreme Court would be the legal avenue by which the council could pursue the $19,059 if lawyers for both parties could not agree on a payment. 

Councillor Hoskin on Tuesday said she had nothing further to say on this subject, but has previously told the Bendigo Advertiser she did not consider herself liable for the legal costs as the applicants’ lawyer was taking direct instruction from Ms Howard.

The City of Greater Bendigo confirmed it will continue to pursue costs related to the High Court appeal, but its director of corporate performance Kerryn Ellis in December said the situation was not a concern of council. 

“It involves actions taken by Ms Hoskin before she was a councillor and the serving of notice has so far not impacted on council business,” she said.

Kathleen Howard was contacted by the Bendigo Advertiser, but did not respond before deadline. 

Ms Howard previously distanced herself from the legal costs, saying: “If they want to get blood out of a stone, let them try.”

“I'm not responsible for anything. 

“They (City of Greater Bendigo) knew I had nothing when we started, they know I have nothing.” 

The Victorian Electoral Commission previously confirmed an individual’s eligibility to stand for public office is not affected by a situation in which they owed money to the council they were seeking to represent.