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New AAT president named

The acting Attorney-General has revealed who will lead the Administrative Appeals Tribunal through its reform process and then ultimately lead the new body once the AAT is abolished.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 24 May 2023 Politics
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In December of last year, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus announced the abolition of the AAT, citing “a disgraceful exhibition of cronyism” by the former government in appointments made over the last decade to a body that he said had “once commanded universal respect”.

The public standing of the AAT, the A-G declared, has been “irreversibly damaged” by the actions of the Coalition governments from 2013 to 2022.

As reported by Lawyers Weekly earlier this year, there are lessons from the “mercy killing” of the AAT.


“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,” A-G Dreyfus said at the time.

The “dysfunction” of the AAT, he 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”.

Now, Senator Katy Gallagher — currently serving as acting Attorney-General — has announced that the Albanese government is recommending Victorian Judge of Appeal Justice Emilios Kyrou AO as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia and as president of the AAT.

Kyrou J was selected, the acting A-G noted, through a “transparent and merit-based process” and has the experience and capacity to lead a trusted federal administrative review body in a fair, efficient, accessible and independent manner.

His Honour will serve as president of the AAT through the “important reform” process and will become the inaugural president of the new administrative review body, once established, for the remainder of the term of his appointment — which is for five years.

The appointment of a new president of the AAT, Senator Gallagher said, is an “important step” in the government’s reform of Australia’s system of administrative review.

Kyrou J has been a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria since 2008 and a judge of appeal within the state’s Court of Appeal since 2014.

His Honour, Senator Gallagher’s statement detailed, is “widely recognised for his integrity, legal excellence, independence and intellectual capacity”.

“On behalf of the Australian government, I congratulate Justice Kyrou on his proposed appointment,” she said.

“The government is grateful to all members of the legal profession who provided nominations of candidates for this very important role. The government would also like to thank the Hon Justice Susan Kenny AM and the Hon Justice Berna Collier for their service as acting AAT president in recent months.”

The appointment is subject to approval from Governor-General David Hurley. Once approved, His Honour will commence as a Federal Court judge on 8 June and then as AAT president the following day.