Gary is one of Australia’s leading government and constitutional lawyers. He advises Government on complex policy implementation, ‘litigation-proof’ decision-making, and on defending decisions being challenged. He also acts for the private sector on dealings with Government. Gary has held senior positions in Government including as Chief Counsel with the Cth Dept. of Human Services, and has been a partner with two major law firms.
He has been included in the Best Lawyers listings every year since their inception, and is currently recognised in four categories:
- Constitutional Law
- Government Practice
- Public Law
- Regulatory Practice.
Gary has led teams of lawyers advising and acting for Australian Government agencies on many matters including ‘litigation-proof’ decision-making, defending decisions under ADJR challenge, policy implementation and legislative design, and management and settling of claims. He has worked across a range of portfolios including Defence, Health, Aviation, Environment, Immigration and Telecommunications, and has run matters in all States and Territories.
In 2009 – 2010 Gary was Chief Counsel with the Department of Human Services with general portfolio legal responsibilities and for the start-up of the merger of Centrelink, Medicare Australia and the Child Support Agency into the Department.
From 2014 – 2015 Gary was seconded as Special Counsel to the Department of the Environment advising on a broad range of matters.
Gary has also conducted some major inquiries for Ministers and Departments including the 2011-12 Review of allegations of sexual and other abuse in Defence.
Gary is an Adjunct Professor of Government and Administrative Law at the University of Canberra. He has also held positions as lecturer in law at the Australian National University, Secretary to the Senate Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee, Assistant to the Commonwealth Solicitor‑General and Head Commonwealth Civil Litigation.
Gary was a founding National Executive member and is a former National President of the Australian Institute of Administrative Law. He has also served on the Law Council of Australia’s Federal Litigation, Administrative Law and Constitutional Law Committees and on an ACT Law Society Committee considering a Bill of Rights for the ACT.
Gary’s areas of expertise include:
- administrative law requirements for valid decision-making
- interpretation and application of legislation
- liability issues for Government agencies
- constitutional law including interaction of State and Commonwealth legislation
- legislation design, drafting of instruments and drafting instructions
- conducting inquiries
- Acting for the Australian Heritage Commission to defend a challenge in the High Court to the World Heritage listing of the Queensland Wet Tropics and Daintree.
- Advising the Federal Airports Corporation on all regulatory and environmental issues for its national network of 25 airports including advising on the EIS process for the Sydney Airport Third Runway and defending the ADJR and constitutional law challenges to the decisions associated with that EIS and the project and running an ADJR challenge to the Australian Heritage Commission heritage listing of bushland at Perth Airport.
- As partner in Blake’s (now Ashurst’s) Brisbane office, advising State owned and private sector energy and mining projects in Queensland on requirements of Commonwealth legislation.
- Advising on Commonwealth EPBC Act and heritage and State law planning and environmental issues for disposal of 500 Commonwealth properties around the country.
- Acting for an international aviation navigation products provider defending a claim by a Federal Government agency with potential adverse implications for the client’s use of aeronautical information around the world.
- Advising private sector entities on electoral funding and Parliamentary Committee processes;
- Advising a telecommunications infrastructure contractor rolling out a mobile phone network on the interaction of the Cth’s Telecommunications Act and State legislation.
Advising regulators, investigators and witnesses on many areas of investigations and inquiries including:
- advising an independent investigator on process issues for allegations of breach by immigration officials;
- acting for the Private Health Insurance Administration Council in relation to whistleblower allegations of misuse of funds by a private health insurer;
- representing the Health Insurance Commission in litigation against pharmacists for alleged fraud and pathologists for alleged breach of professional standards related to Medicare supported services; and
- advising a witness to the Oil for Food Royal Commission.
- Leading a team of lawyers who worked with Customs and Comcover to set up a claims management scheme to respond to hundreds of claims for losses allegedly caused by delays in clearing containers from ports on introduction of a new IT system. The team developed processes for assessing claims for settlement or rejection through Legal Services Direction and CDDA processes and then assisted Customs and Comcover with implementation of the processes. Hundreds of claims were resolved without any litigation being commenced and with working relationships with the importing sector preserved.
Gary has been included in Best Lawyers based on peer review surveys every year since its inception. He is currently recognised in Best Lawyers for his expertise in:
- Constitutional Law
- Government Practice
- Public Law
- Regulatory Practice
Gary was recognised by Best Lawyers as the 2018 Public Law “Lawyer of the Year” for the ACT.
Gary is a member of:
- The Law Society of the ACT;
- Australian Institute of Administrative Law; and
- Australian Association of Constitutional Law.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a PhD (Constitutional Law) from the Australian National University.
|2017 – Present||Keypoint Law | Consulting Principal|
|2002 – Present||University of Canberra | Adjunct Professor|
|2011 – 2017||HWL Ebsworth | Special Counsel|
|2002 – 2011||DLA Phillips Fox (now DLA Piper) | Partner|
|1998 – 2001||Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst) | Partner, Brisbane|
|1991 – 1998||Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst) | Partner, Canberra|
|1986 – 1988||Commonwealth Litigation Branch Attorney-General’s Department|
|1984 – 1986||Assistant to Commonwealth Solicitor-General|
|1984||Secretary Senate Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee|
|1977 – 1984||Australian National University | Lecturer in Law|