Activist Sally Rugg has surrounded herself with a group of powerful media friends ahead of an impending multi-million dollar court battle with Teal MP Monique Ryan.
Ms. Rugg is close friends with prominent ABC journalists Louise Milligan, Annabel Crabb and Patricia Karvelas, and enjoys other influential media connections, including multiple award-winning reporter Samantha Maiden.
An investigative reporter and author of the award-winning book on Cardinal George Pell, Milligan regularly socializes with Ms Rugg and her partner, ABC comedian Kate McCartney.
A longtime political reporter, Karvelas currently hosts RN Breakfast, while political journalist and host Crabb has created a haul of ABC TV shows including Kitchen Cabinet, The House and Back In Time For Dinner.
Ms. Rugg is also friends with Jo Chichester, ABC’s screen manager, and Jacqueline Maley, the popular columnist and author for Nine Newspapers.
If the dispute over her $166,000 political work with the Kooyong MP goes to trial as predicted, the former GetUp! and the Change.org activist will have many high-profile followers.
Ms. Rugg is suing her former employer in Federal Court over what she says are “unreasonable” job expectations and a “hostile” workplace.
Ms Rugg, back left, with her partner, ABC comedian Kate McCartney, front left, Annabel Crabb, center, Louise Milligan, back right in October last year.
Power pose: Sally Rugg (left) with Louise Milligan, ABC Screen director Jo Chichester, Jacqueline Maley and Annabel Crabb on a night out at Bart Jr’s restaurant in Redfern
Ms Rugg alleges that Dr Ryan fired her in January after complaints of overwork, which could be linked to the seeds of discontent sown near the start of her tenure as MP’s chief of staff.
Ms. Rugg began work as the chief of staff to Dr. Ryan, a former pediatric neurologist, in the last week of July 2022.
It was around the same time that Dr. Ryan and her fellow Teal MPs were giving their maiden addresses to Parliament.
Ms Rugg tweeted that it was the “best first week of a new job” with a smiley emoji, and on August 13, she tweeted again that “I love my new job omg.”
But it only took six months for the two women to separate, with Ms Rugg breaking up at the end of January and then applying for an interim injunction to prevent the Commonwealth from laying off her employment.
Ms. Rugg’s lawsuit alleged that Dr. Ryan took “adverse action” against her “in order to harm (Ms. Rugg) in her employment by engaging in hostile conduct in the workplace.”
Federal Court Judge Debbie Mortimer on Tuesday dismissed Ms Rugg’s request to return to work while she awaits a possible trial.
Sally Rugg and Kate McCartney with Patricia Karvelas, the ABC newscaster and journalist who currently hosts RN Breakfast
Sally Rugg (right) with, left to right, Louise Milligan, Samantha Maiden and, centre, Annabel Crabb in January this year, a few weeks before Ms Rugg said Monique Ryan fired her.
Rugg’s first week in Dr. Ryan’s office was featured on Milligan’s Four Corners show Independents’ Day.
The show, which aired two weeks later, showcased the generous access ABC gave the Kooyong MP, along with independents Zali Steggall, Zoe Daniel and Dai Le.
At the time, rival outlet Sky News ran scathing reviews of it as a “gushing” and “fluffy” piece for Monique Ryan rather than the “hard-hitting” journalism Four Corners is famous for.
Sky guests, media commentators Daisy Cousens and Sophie Elsworth, spoke to Dr Ryan.
Cousens said the show was “a parody of itself, if you’re going to do a swagger about any of the independents why would you cast Monique Ryan?”
Sally Rugg, center, is suing her former employer in Federal Court over what she says are “unreasonable” job expectations.
Sally Rugg tweeted in July last year in the first week of her job as Monique Ryan’s chief of staff when the new Kooyong MP and her fellow Teals gave their maiden speeches to Parliament.
Sally Rugg retweets Louise Milligan’s Four Corners show on Monique Ryan and the Teals’ new independents, which was dismissed by rival network Sky as a “gushing piece”.
Federal Court Judge Debbie Mortimer on Tuesday dismissed Ms. Rugg’s request to return to work for Dr. Ryan (pictured) while she awaits a potential trial.
In Federal Court this week, Ms Rugg claimed that Dr Ryan had fired her for refusing to work ‘unreasonable extra hours’.
Ms. Rugg had told the court that she was so concerned about Dr. Ryan’s temper that she felt that even taking personal time to buy tampons would incur the wrath of her boss.
In rendering her ruling, Judge Mortimer told the parties to continue to work together to resolve the matter in hopes of avoiding a costly trial.
Ms Rugg has heralded the intention to add demands for sanctions against the Commonwealth, which are broader in scope and relate to allegations of systematic tolerance of unreasonable working hours by all parliamentary staff.