Administrative Appeals Tribunal Abolished
To be replaced for greatly improved efficiencies
Australia’s much-criticised Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is about to be disbanded and replaced with a new body, staffed and managed by an increased number of highly qualified and carefully selected professionals.
Regarding the AAT
The AAT has operated since 1976 but expanded in 2015 after amalgamating with the previous Social Security Appeals Tribunal, the Migration Review Tribunal and the Refugee Review Tribunal. Since then however, it has come under heavy criticism for its extended delays and questionable “political” appointments.
The government tribunal’s last annual report revealed that, at 30th June, there were 67,720 cases awaiting finalisation, a massive 83 percent of which related to migration and refugee matters. That equates to over 56.000 pending immigration decisions!
Migration cases, including decisions on Australian citizenship, were shown to have increased by 31 percent, since the previous year.
Current cases and planned restructure
Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus issued assurances that no cases, currently before the AAT, would be affected by the changes.
He has appointed former Federal Court judge, Susan Kenny, as acting president of the tribunal, replacing Justice Fiona Meagher who resigned in early December and recently revealed plans to appoint an additional 75 members to deal with what he described as a “shocking backlog”.
A new review body will be legislated and established in the new year, its members appointed under a merit-based process, specific to each member’s area of involvement. Current members would be invited to apply but each must meet the new body’s strict guidelines.
Welcoming these long overdue changes, The Australia Institute’s democracy and accountability director, Bill Browne, contributed; “Whatever body replaces the AAT must be robust and independent. The AAT’s replacement must be carefully designed, with an open and transparent appointment process which ensures that only qualified independent members are appointed.”
These views are shared precisely by Mark Dreyfus and reflected in his proposal.
How the changes impact pending and future decisions
Any decision to axe a dysfunctional body; to rebuild efficiency from the ground up, is a courageous yet necessary step.
The advice that transitional plans have been formalised, that no current matters will be affected and that additional staffing has been budgeted to resolve backlogs, should offer reassurance to those anxiously awaiting pending outcomes, whilst an understanding of such extensive reforms can only provide confidence for future applications.
Current developments – and what they mean for you
Immigration laws and processes are constantly evolving as they adjust to changing conditions but at Sellanes Clark, we always endeavour to deliver current information, in a meaningful constructive manner, taking great pride in offering friendly guidance and professional assistance, promptly and in every-day terms .
For more information on this or on any relating issues, contact the experts – Sellanes Clark Immigration Law Specialists.