Public servant's lawn mowing compensation bid fails

An obese bureaucrat has failed in his attempt to get taxpayers to pay for his suburban lawn to be mowed after he refused to allow his two adult children and wife to be cross-examined about their ability to do the work instead. 

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal found evidence about his family's inability to mow the lawn "exaggerated, selective, superficial, incomplete and unconvincing".    

"The tribunal believed that three able-bodied adults could easily find time to mow and trim the lawns of their family home for the 1-2 hours a fortnight or less required," the tribunal's published decision said.

"At a more fundamental level, we found that the (man's) breathlessness, fatigue, dizziness and sweating complained of derived from the applicant’s obesity, deteriorating cardiac condition and sleep apnoea."

The tribunal, which affirmed previous decisions made allowing Comcare not to pay for his lawn to be mowed, heard his two children were students - a man and a woman - aged 22 and 19.

The father told the tribunal his children studied "well over 60 hours" a week each and already helped with cooking and cleaning. The tribunal was told his 50-year-old wife worked full-time hours five days a week, plus an hour travelling each way to her job. On weekends she was occupied shopping, washing clothes and caring for the four-person family.


He did not allow them to be called for cross-examination, even though he was warned his claims about their schedule might be given far less weight if he refused. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics clerk received a compensation payout after twice claiming he had been bullied and harassed.

On both occasions, in 2008 and 2010, Comcare found his work had contributed to his adjustment disorder.

The costs of his lawn mowing were paid until the end of 2012 but the withdrawal of the gardening assistance led to a long-running legal battle which saw his claim declined again on review in early 2013 and, finally, knocked back in the tribunal decision made public on Tuesday.

The man, who also suffered from a rapid and irregular heartbeat which Comcare found was not caused by his adjustment disorder, said he nearly fainted twice, felt breathless and weak mowing his level front lawn and gently sloping back lawn.