Abolition of the 'politicized' Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 2023

Abolition of the ‘politicized’ Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 2023


The Administrative Appeals Tribunal, one of Australia’s most notoriously political agencies, has suffered irreparable harm, according to the Attorney-General, and will be abolished as a result.

Having been established as an independent merits review body, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal offers a review of a range of administrative decisions issued by the Australian Government.



Words of the Attorney General on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal


As Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus pointed out that the former government made dozens of politicized appointments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal during its time in office, and he intends to end the “cronyism”, a process by which only related friends or close associates are appointed to authoritative positions.



Mr. Dreyfus said,


“By appointing 85 former Liberal MPs, failed Liberal candidates, former Liberal staffers, and other close Liberal associates, without any merit-based selection process. The former government fatally compromised the AAT, Australians rightly expect honesty, integrity, and accountability in government.”




Establishment of a review committee

It is planned that a new review body will be established in the new year, and those members of the tribunal who have already been appointed will be invited to stay on.


The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has been responsible for evaluating government judgments since approximately 50 years ago, including those concerning taxation, immigration, and social security.


The Administrative Appeals Tribunal’s members were appointed by the ruling administration of the time for terms of up to seven years, but they are eligible for reappointment.



Mr. Dreyfus accused the earlier government of favoring the appointment as a member of the review committee for issues such as taxation despite their lack of knowledge of those matters. He also said that for future appointments of tribunal members, the new body will follow a merit-based system and will not favor anyone.


Mr. Dreyfus further said,

“The AAT’s dysfunction has had a very real cost to the tens of thousands of people who rely on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal each year to independently review government decisions that have major and sometimes life-changing impacts on their lives,”



He continued to say,

“Decisions such as whether an older Australian receives an age pension, whether a veteran is compensated for a service injury or whether a participant in the NDIS receives funding for an essential report.”



Words of the Shadow Attorney-General Julian Leeser

As a result of the government’s abolition of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, shadow attorney-general Julian Leeser said the Tribunal will be less accountable to the public in the future.


Mr. Leeser said.

“This government is all about settling political scores,



He further said,

“I don’t buy Mr. Dreyfus’s spin there will be a new system up and running almost immediately and nothing will fall through the cracks. It just won’t happen.”



A spike in politicized appointments under Morrison

Former governments of all stripes have been accused of politicizing appointments, and many accusations have been leveled against them. There has been a significant rise in what is considered political appointments since the Coalition took power in 2013, according to the progressive think tank the Australia Institute.



A little more than 5% of appointments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal were made under the Howard, Rudd, and Gillard administrations. More than one-third of appointments were made under the Morrison administration.

The study’s findings revealed that a quarter of the participants in Additionally, it was discovered that 25% of senior AAT members who were political appointments lacked the legal credentials necessary for the position.



Among those that were appointed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in the last days of the Morrison government are


  • Former New South Wales state Liberal minister Pru Goward,
  • Former WA Liberal minister Michael Mischin,
  • Morrison’s former chief of staff Anne Duffield


Since 2016, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has also been accused of bullying by a number of its own members.



Words of The Australia Institute’s democracy and accountability director

Bill Browne, The Australia Institute’s democracy and accountability director said there is an urgent need for reform.

Mr. Browne said.

“Whatever body replaces the AAT must be robust and independent, and that means the AAT’s replacement must be carefully designed with an open and transparent appointment process that ensures only qualified, independent members are appointed,”


Greg Barns SC, the spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, welcomed the decision to abolish the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. He said


“Mr. Dreyfus has the chance to create a new, impartial, and fully independent tribunal that deals with thousands of cases each year involving Centrelink issues, tax issues, and military compensation, to name some of the areas,”


He declared,

“Today is a win for the rule of law.”



Appointment of the Acting President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

To streamline the transition to the new system, Justice Susan Kenney has been appointed as the acting president of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.


According to Mr. Dreyfus, the new acting body will be provided with an additional 75-member staff at a cost of amount $63.4 million. This is to clear the previous backlog.


In his remarks, he said that legislation establishing the body would be introduced next year, but that it would probably not be introduced until the second half of the year.



Final Remarks

The new government promises to make a lot of changes to streamline future processes and bring transparency into the system. It is planned that a new review body will be established in the new year, and those members of the tribunal who have already been appointed will be invited to stay on. The previous shortcomings and the problems of favoritism will be dealt with strategically.


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I’m Nasir Nawaz. I’m a registered migration consultant in Australia. I am based in Sydney. I’ve studied Master of Laws at the University of New South Wales. I’m providing immigration services for several years.

Consult with me for legal advice on Australian visas to permanently live, study, and work in Australia.