By and -

Key decisions

  • Ashby v Commonwealth of Australia [2021] FCA 40
  • Qantas Airways Limited v Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia (The JobKeeper Case) [2020] FCAFC 227
  • Rockment Pty Ltd t/a Vanilla Lounge v AAI Limited t/a Vero Insurance [2020] FCAFC 228


Application to review decision to refuse application for act of grace payment – Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth).

In Ashby v Commonwealth of Australia [2021] FCA 40, an application for judicial review was dismissed with costs.

Background: In the period between 22 December 2011 and 23 October 2012, Mr Ashby was employed to work for the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Peter Slipper MP. On 20 April 2012, Mr Ashby brought a proceeding in the Federal Court against Mr Slipper and the Commonwealth alleging sexual harassment and misuse of parliamentary entitlements. In June 2014, Mr Ashby discontinued his claim against Mr Slipper, due to mounting pressure from ‘millions of dollars’ in outstanding legal costs. In October 2018, Mr Ashby applied to the Commonwealth and the Minister for Finance for an ‘act of grace payment’ under s 65(1) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) (‘the Act’), which provides that the Minister may, on behalf of the Commonwealth, ‘authorise, in writing, one or more payments to be made to a person’ if the Minister ‘considers it appropriate to do so because of special circumstances’.

Mr Ashby sought approximately $4.5 million to cover his legal fees in relation to the proceedings. A delegate of the Minister refused the application and Mr Ashby sought judicial review in the Federal Court. Incidentally, the Commonwealth had, in 2013, agreed to reimburse Mr Slipper (under s 65 of the Act) for his legal costs.

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