Albanese Government must properly safeguard the independence of new Administrative Review Tribunal


The Australia Institute will appear before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs today to present evidence on cronyism in appointments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and recommend improving the appointment process of its replacement, the Administrative Review Tribunal (ART).

The Australia Institute’s research into appointments to the AAT is the largest and most comprehensive domestic study of the practice of cronyism in relation to appointments to a government agency ever conducted.

While the Albanese Government’s ART is a welcome change, the Government must implement further safeguards in the ART appointment process to secure its independence.


  • The Albanese Government has put forward legislation replacing the Administrative Appeals Tribunal with the Administrative Review Tribunal (ART)
  • A House of Representatives inquiry into the ART bills received 32 submissions, including from the Australia Institute
    • The committee encouraged the Government to give further consideration to requiring the use of selection panels in the appointment process
    • The Australia Institute, among others, expressed concern that the ART could still be the subject of political appointments
    • Additional comments from Coalition members welcomed that the upcoming Senate inquiry would consider the bills in more detail
    • Additional comments from Kate Chaney identified six ways to improve the appointment process

The Australia Institute’s recommendations:

  1. Introduce a cooling-off period before those with party roles can be appointed to the ART
  2. Broaden the types of legal experience that make one eligible for appointment, but require a longer period of experience
  3. Enshrine assessment panels as selection panels in legislation and limit the Minister to making appointments from candidates recommended by the panels only.
  4. Require that appointees:
    1. do not work as lobbyists
    2. have not worked for a government department whose decisions are reviewed by the ART within the last four years
      are not serving members of the defence force, or currently employed or contracted by the government
    3. Require qualifications and prior work experience details for all members of the ART be published

“The proposed Administrative Review Tribunal has a welcome focus on transparency and a merit-based selection process,” said Bill Browne, Director of the Australia Institute’s Democracy & Accountability Program.

“However, further safeguards are needed. Australia Institute research found that in the last term of the Morrison Government, 40% of appointments to the AAT were political, and that political appointments were much more likely to have no legal qualifications even though AAT decisions must consider facts, laws, and policy.

“Politicised appointments introduce the apprehension of bias into the tribunal’s often life-changing decisions regarding deportations, NDIS payments, child support, visas, veterans’ entitlements and Commonwealth workers’ compensation.”

Submission Details

10:15am, Committee Room 2S1, Parliament House, Canberra

Alongside the Centre for Public Integrity and the Accountability Round Table.

Watch on ParlView

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