Labor deal falls shy of its mark

THE LABOR Party offered to ‘sort out’ Ian Cohen’s million- dollar legal bill if he joined the party, the Broken Head based Greens MLC claimed at a public meeting on Saturday.

“Don’t worry about it Ian, we will sort it out, just join the party,” Mr Cohen admitted to being told.

There was even talk of a ministry position if he made the switch, Mr Cohen said speaking at a fundraiser held in Byron Bay on Saturday to help pay the legal debt, incurred when the High Court ruled he had defamed local developer Jerry Bennette.

However, yesterday Mr Cohen said no ‘official offer’ by Labor had been made. The offer had come from an individual within the party.

Mr Cohen, who described himself as ‘the million dollar man’, said the loss of the case had hit him like a ‘brick in the face’.

“An amazing shock,” he said. “An incredible learning experience.”

Special guest at the event was Greens leader Senator Bob Brown who presented a slide show of photographs he had taken of areas under environmental threat. The images feature in a book, Earth, which was released last November.

Sen Brown joined Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham for a question-and-answer session during which questions were accepted from the audience.

The event raised about $7000. Mr Cohen said he would also be selling his flat in Sydney to help pay his legal bills.

Mr Cohen, who has been a member of the NSW Upper House for 15 years, will step down in 2011.

Cr Barham will be on the NSW Green’s ticket for the Upper House at the next state election.

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