Milestone Amalgamation of Key Commonwealth Merits Review Tribunals

Media Release

Senator The Hon George Brandis QC

1 July 2015

Today, I attended a ceremonial sitting of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to welcome the most significant reform to Commonwealth administrative law in 40 years; the amalgamation of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the Migration Review Tribunal Refugee Review Tribunal into a single body, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal will provide an accessible, efficient and informal process for review of government decisions.

The ceremonial sitting was attended by key figures in the history of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, including the current President, the Honourable Justice Duncan Kerr Chev LH, Sir Gerard Brennan KBE QC and the Honourable Robert Ellicott QC.

The amalgamation will strengthen the efficacy of Commonwealth merits review and promote high quality and consistent government decision making.

The amalgamated Tribunal promotes accessibility of review by simplifying the merits review system and providing a single point of contact for Tribunal users. Key services of each of the amalgamated tribunals will be retained, while allowing for greater sharing and utilisation of members’ specialist expertise.

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the legislative establishment of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The reforms that commenced today deliver the coherent merits review framework envisaged when the AAT was established in 1975.

The reform is also consistent with key recommendations of the 2012 Strategic Review of Small and Medium Agencies in the Attorney–General’s portfolio and the 2014 National Commission of Audit Report, Towards Responsible Government.

Justice Kerr continues as President of the amalgamated Administrative Appeals Tribunal. I thank him for his leadership throughout the amalgamation process.

I also extend my thanks to the members and staff of the tribunals for their expertise and hard work throughout the amalgamation process.