Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

Administrative Appeals Tribunal to be abolished

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has just announced that the Albanese government is abolishing the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), which he says “once commanded universal respect”, citing “a disgraceful exhibition of cronyism” by the former government in appointments made over the last decade.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 16 December 2022 Politics
expand image

Speaking at a press conference earlier today (Friday, 16 December), Mr Dreyfus said that the government has resolved to abolish the AAT and replace it with an administrative review body that “serves the interest of the Australian community”.

The public standing of the AAT, the A-G declared, has been “irreversibly damaged” by the actions of the Coalition governments in the past nine years.

“By appointing 85 former Liberal MPs, former Liberal staffers and other close Liberal associates without any merit-based selection process — including some individuals with no relevant experience or expertise — the former government fatally compromised the AAT, undermined its independence and eroded the quality and efficiency of its decision making,” he submitted.


“This was a disgraceful exhibition of cronyism by the Liberal Party.”

The “dysfunction” of the AAT, A-G Dreyfus continued, has “had a very real cost” to the tens of thousands of people who rely on the AAT chair to independently review government decisions that “have made major — and sometimes life-changing — impacts on their lives”.

“Decisions such as whether an old Australian receives an aged pension, whether a veteran is compensated for a service injury, or whether a participant in the NDIS received funding for support,” he said.

The Albanese government, the A-G noted in a statement, “inherited an AAT that is not on a sustainable financial footing, that is beset by delays and an extraordinarily large and growing backlog of applications and that is operating multiple and ageing electronic case management systems”.

This is, he said, “a legacy of the former government’s mismanagement of the amalgamation of the AAT with the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal”.

The AAT, the statement went on, “once commanded universal respect”.

Former A-G Philip Ruddock once opined, Mr Dreyfus said, that the AAT “led the world in administrative law innovation and best practice”.

It is “inconceivable”, Mr Dreyfus posited, that any federal A-G, regardless of party, would make “remotely similar” remarks now.

Moving forward, Mr Dreyfus said, the federal government is committed to delivering a new, accessible, sustainable and trusted Administrative Review Tribunal that is “user-focused, efficient, accessible, independent and fair”.

As such, the government is committing $63.4 million over two years for an additional 75 members to address the current backlog of cases and reduce wait times while the new body is being set up, as well as $11.7 million over two years for a single, streamlined case management system.

There will also, Mr Dreyfus’ statement continued, be a “transparent and merit-based” selection process for non-judicial members.

“Existing non-judicial members of the AAT, many of whom continue to embody the best traditions of that once-celebrated institution, will be invited to apply for positions on the new body in accordance with that process,” he said.

Matters currently before the AAT will be unaffected, the A-G stressed, noting that they will continue to be heard as the reforms progress.

Finally, Federal Court Justice Susan Kenny has been appointed as the acting president of the AAT, with a transparent and merit-based selection process to be undertaken in due course.

Mr Dreyfus thanked Justice Berna Collier for her service as acting president in recent weeks.