Parliament passes the Tribunals Amalgamation Bill

14 May 2015

Joint media release

Attorney-General
Senator The Hon George Brandis QC

Minister for Social Services
The Hon Scott Morrison MP

Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
The Hon Peter Dutton MP

Yesterday Parliament passed the Tribunals Amalgamation Bill, a significant reform which will merge the key Commonwealth merits review tribunals into one body.

From 1 July 2015, the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) and the Migration Review Tribunal–Refugee Review Tribunal (MRT–RRT) will join the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

This is the biggest reform to the Australian administrative law system since the AAT was established in 1975 as a generalist merits review tribunal with broad jurisdiction.

Bringing the tribunals together will enhance access to justice through the provision of a single, simple point of contact for users of the tribunal. It will adjudicate over 40,000 applications every year, providing fair, just, economical, informal and quick reviews of administrative decisions.

Expertise that is essential to managing matters in specialist jurisdictions will be maintained, while harmonising and simplifying procedures wherever possible.

The merger will achieve savings of $7.2 million over four years through shared back office functions and property holdings.

Applicants will come to the merged tribunal to challenge Government decisions in areas such as: tax matters; visa applications; social security benefits; workers compensation; disability support, freedom of information requests, and veterans’ entitlements.

The new AAT will commence under the leadership of Justice Duncan Kerr Chev LH as President. We thank the leadership of the AAT, SSAT and MRT–RRT for their constructive engagement and expert advice to support this important reform.