The Australian Government has announced a comprehensive reform of the country’s system of administrative review, with the aim of making it more user-focused, efficient, accessible, independent, and fair. This will involve abolishing the existing Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and creating a new federal administrative review body. The key features of the reform include the implementation of a transparent and merit-based appointments process, the provision of additional capacity to resolve existing backlogs, consistent funding and remuneration arrangements, and improvements to the accessibility and efficiency of merits review.
The new appointment guidelines will ensure a transparent and merit-based process for the appointment of members, with expressions of interest being sought via public advertisement, selection made against a core set of criteria, and an assessment panel established to assess applicants’ claims. The government plans to introduce legislation in 2023 to create the new federal administrative review body, and a dedicated taskforce has been established to ensure a smooth transition to the new system.
Public consultation is currently open on the legislative arrangements for the new administrative review body, and the Taskforce is conducting a combination of face-to-face and virtual consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. An Expert Advisory Group has also been established to guide the reform, comprising highly qualified and experienced individuals with a range of backgrounds and expertise.
The impact on cases currently before the AAT will be minimal, with all cases continuing as usual while the reform is progressed. Applicants will not need to submit a new application for review of these cases, and they will receive notice prior to the establishment of a new body and be provided with information on the process of transitioning their case to the new body.
The reform of Australia’s system of administrative review is a welcome development, as it will provide greater transparency, accountability, and accessibility to the process of reviewing decisions made by the government. The establishment of a new federal administrative review body will ensure that the system is independent and free from any potential conflicts of interest, which is crucial for ensuring that decisions are fair and impartial.
The provision of additional capacity to enable the rapid resolution of existing backlogs is also an important aspect of the reform, as it will ensure that cases are resolved in a timely manner and that people are not left waiting for long periods to have their cases heard. The introduction of consistent funding and remuneration arrangements will also ensure that the new system is able to respond flexibly to fluctuating case numbers, which is important for ensuring that the system is able to operate effectively and efficiently.
Overall, the reform of Australia’s system of administrative review is a significant step forward in ensuring that the system is accessible, independent, and fair.
The government’s commitment to implementing a transparent and merit-based appointment process is also important for ensuring that the new system is staffed by qualified and experienced individuals who are able to make impartial and fair decisions. With the implementation of the new system in 2023, it is hoped that the Australian community will have greater confidence in the administrative review process and that decisions made by the government will be subject to greater scrutiny and accountability.
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