The Senate has today established an inquiry into Australia’s administrative review system.

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee has been tasked to report by 31 March 2022 on the performance and integrity of Australia’s administrative review system, with particular reference to:

  • the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, including the selection process for members;
  • the importance of transparency and parliamentary accountability in the context of Australia’s administrative review system;
  • whether the Administrative Review Council, which was discontinued in 2015, ought to be re-established; and
  • any related matters.

Members of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal are tasked with making life-changing decisions for tens of thousands of Australians each year, such as whether an older Australian receives an age pension, whether a veteran receives a service pension, whether a participant of the NDIS receives funding for essential supports or whether a refugee obtains a visa to remain in this country.

Senators have a responsibility to ensure that the Parliament has proper oversight of Australia’s administrative review system. The AAT is not above accountability – especially given how important the AAT is for people wanting a fair go in reviewing public service decision making.    

But over the past eight years, successive Liberal Governments have politicised the Tribunal by appointing at least 79 former Liberal Party politicians and candidates, and former Liberal staffers and associates, as Members. And, in recent weeks, The Australian, the Herald Sun and the Australian Financial Review have reported that many Members have been failing to meet benchmarks set for them or, in some cases, not turning up for work at all.

The Guardian has also reported that at least two Tribunal Members have also been working as government lobbyists.

It is long past time for the Senate to put the Tribunal under the microscope, along with other long-neglected aspects of Australia’s administrative review system. 

This is an important inquiry and I urge anyone with experience of Australia’s administrative review system to provide evidence to the Committee.

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  • Kim Carr
    published this page in Media Releases 2022-01-27 14:37:10 +1100