Joan Evatt

Joan Evatt

Legal Writer at No Fibs
A student Activist in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Joan is still doggedly swimming against the tide, and in answer to two questions she's still commonly asked: "Yes I am an Evatt and we're all related. No, I am not a lawyer. I just seem to have a plethora of legal subjects acquired in various qualifications and a half-finished law degree. I'm also potty-mouthed". For the last 11 years Joan has taught at the Petersham Media Centre, TAFE.
Joan Evatt
In the 1970s and early 80s Joan was industrial officer then federal assistant general secretary of Actors' Equity. She worked for Network Seven in news, current affairs, and 'Willesee' when news was shot on film. She also freelanced for Film Australia, Digby Wolfe Productions, and E-News. From 1984-2005 she ran post-production and production company, VISUALEYES Productions, which won a number of awards for short issue-based trigger films, oversaw ABC post-production, and created television commercials.


I wish someone would help Mal Brough understand at least one thing. The Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia in their 27th February 2014 decision on the Ashby appeal of the Rares J decision is NOT about him.

It is about whether the primary judge, Justice Rares, appropriately made an interlocutory order dismissing the Ashby case as a result, in Rares’ view, of incidents of abusing the administration of justice. Rares J believed the justice system was used as a political tool that ultimately benefitted the ‘LNP or Mr Brough’.

Mansfield J and Gilmour J, in the majority decision, were able to come to the conclusion that the interlocutory order for dismissal was inappropriate primarily because of two factors. The onus was on Slipper to prove an abuse of the administration of justice, and that onus is deemed a heavy one. Slipper, (unrepresented by legal counsel), didn’t as he did not contest the evidence given in court during the interlocutory hearings. This procedural error on Slipper’s part made it easier for two of the three judges to successfully uphold the Ashby appeal.

An argument put to the Full Court by Ashby was that the interlocutory order resulted in an unfair process as the evidence submitted in the trial needed to be considered in full, challenged, and weighed before a decision could be made. According to Ashby the interlocutory order made by Rares J, denied him this process.

Of course, within two months after the appeal Ashby withdrew his sexual harassment case against Slipper despite Ashby’s urgings before the Full Court that he wanted the matter to run its full course.

Because evidence hadn’t been challenged the Full Bench put aside allegations of Brough’s involvement as the burden by Slipper hadn’t been met nor ‘established’ in the interlocutory application.

The Full Court of the Federal Court did not have the benefit of watching the admission by Mr Brough to Liz Hayes on 60 Minutes that he had asked Ashby to get copies of Slipper’s diaries. According to legal eagles, in a criminal trial such an admission would be admissible as evidence in court.

Ashby v Slipper was a civil case, a fight between two parties, which may or may not have resulted in monetary damages being awarded.

The allegations resulting in current AFP investigations of Ashby and Brough involve possible criminal charges, which could result in a gaol sentence of two years max.

The week Turnbull anointed Brough as a Minister of the Crown I wrote the following piece:

Turnbull invites the #Ashbygate Zombie to haunt his new Government: @Boeufblogginon comments

Ashbygate, as it has come to be known, marches on relentlessly, and has now become a problem for Turnbull. Just call me Cassandra.