ex gratia - adv. as a favour; not from (esp. legal) obligation -
. granted on this basis (ex gratia payment) (Latin = from favour).
So, for example, a tip (or gratuity) is an ex gratia payment from a customer to a staff member of a bar or restaurant in recognition of services rendered - unlike the cost of the meal, or the bar tab.
That's worth keeping in mind when you read statements like this:
The carer bonus was paid ex gratia by the previous federal government over the past four years, to families caring for people with disabilities, chronic illness or age frailty, in recognition of the unpaid care provided by those families eligible for the carer payment and/or carer allowance. (Jean Tops at On-Line Opinion)
Tops' OLO article is yet another contribution to the confected public outrage over the "Rudd razor gang's" threat to "axe" the Howard government's carer's bonus, one of several ex gratia payments made by the previous Government over its term of office.
I've no argument with the rest of Tops' article (I haven't read it through yet), nonetheless I've a small suggestion. Let's drop the confected outrage, and look at the question of what the Rudd government - and any government that follows it - should be doing to assist carers. That's a debate worth having.
As for the question "Is it proper for a democratically elected government to dish out ex gratia payments to particular sectors of the voting population?" I think that's pretty much a case of asked and answered.
Note: this post was written ex gratia. I don't have to do this you know.