ONLY THE OPPOSITION stood between the Government and the arrival of an effective and efficient Administrative Appeal Tribunal (AAT), the country’s first law officer has announced. But now Labor has succumbed, appropriate and commonsense reforms can pass through the Senate, he said.
After more than seven years of obstructing Government planned reforms to the AAT, federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock said, the Labor Party had allowed the passage of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Amendment Bill 2005.
The reforms would benefit Australians who were challenging decisions by government agencies, Ruddock said. “The tribunal will offer applicants a wider range of inexpensive and effective means for resolving issues through the expansion of alternative dispute resolution processes,” he said. The Federal Court would have the power to make findings of fact where appropriate, said Ruddock.
He condemned the Opposition for its inability to enter the debate on the Bill in the same spirit of “sensible compromise” as the Government.
“The Government had shown significant goodwill by accepting three of the four recommendations for change made by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee,” Ruddock said. “It was disappointing the Opposition continued its posturing on these issues long after it was clear the reforms were not only necessary but widely supported.”