This study, the largest and most comprehensive domestic study of the practice of cronyism in relation to appointments to a government agency ever conducted, finds there has been a sharp rise in the proportion of political appointments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) during the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison administration.
In the study, political appointments were defined as the appointment of people who, prior to appointment, had worked for a political party with representation at the federal level in either a paid or voluntary capacity. This included those who had worked as elected representatives, advisers or other staffers, party officials, candidates, pre-selection candidates or for party-affiliated organisations.
In the Howard and Rudd/Gillard/Rudd administrations, political appointees accounted for 6 and 5 per cent of all appointees respectively. By contrast, during the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison administration, political appointees accounted for 32 per cent of all new appointments.
Within the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison administration, political appointments were highest during the second Morrison ministry (see Figure 1). They climbed from 23 per cent of all appointments during the 2013–2016 Abbott/Turnbull Government to 35 per cent during the 2016–2019 Turnbull/Morrison Government to 40 per cent during the 2019–2022 Morrison Government. In the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison era, a total of 236 appointments were made.