The former head of the NT Cattlemen’s Association (NTCA) is suing the organisation over his sacking, claiming his employment was terminated because of his political opinions. 

Key points:

  • Former chief executive of NTCA claims he was sacked for his political opinions
  • Ashley Manicaros is seeking compensation from NTCA and president Chris Nott
  • Court action was filed in the same week as the NTCA conference

Ashley Manicaros was chief executive of the NTCA from August 2018 until December 2020, when he was abruptly dumped from the position. 

Mr Manicaros has filed a statement of claim in the Federal Circuit Court against the NTCA and its president Chris Nott, claiming he was sacked because of his political alignment with the Country Liberal Party (CLP). 

The court action comes in the same week as the NTCA prepares for its annual conference — one of the NT’s biggest rural events — and Will Evans takes over as the organisation’s new chief executive. 

Mr Manicaros’ statement to the Federal Circuit Court claims the NTCA and Mr Nott knew Mr Manicaros’ “political opinions were aligned to the CLP” from “at least September 2018 and throughout his employment.” 

The claim states that in February 2020, Mr Manicaros received a verbal offer to be the Deputy Chief of Staff to the CLP opposition leader, Lia Finocchiaro, which he subsequently declined.

a man in a suit standing at a poduim.

NT Cattleman’s Association president Chris Nott is the second respondent in the court action.(

ABC Rural: Daniel Fitzgerald

)

Manicaros sought CLP preselection

In April 2020, Mr Manicaros informed Mr Nott of his intention to seek pre-selection for the CLP in the seat of Port Darwin in the upcoming NT election in August 2020. 

“On or around 28 April 2020, the applicant’s [Mr Manicaros’] attempt for CLP pre-selection was discontinued,” the claim states. 

“On or around 11 December 2020, the second respondent [Mr Nott] informed the applicant that he was receiving a first and final warning because of the applicant’s political opinion.

“On 16 December 2020, the second respondent informed the applicant that he was dismissed from his employment because of the applicant’s political opinion.”

Mr Manicaros is seeking compensation for loss and damage suffered. 

In a statement to ABC Rural, Mr Manicaros said “on several occasions I’ve tried to resolve the legacy issues of this matter without any success.”

“At this stage, the statement of claim names the NTCA and its President Chris Nott but that may change later, ” Mr Manicaros said.

“While I cannot comment on specific matters because the matters are now before the courts, I look forward to exploring the evidence of members of the executive and others.”

Speaking to ABC Rural, the NTCA’s new chief executive Will Evans confirmed the court action but declined to offer any more information. 

“It’s obviously something that the [NTCA] board has decided to keep confidential, and that is their decision,” Mr Evans said. 

The case is due before the Federal Circuit Court on Friday, June 4th. 

Former NTCA chief sues organisation over sacking
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