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 Report 29

Constitution of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, 1987

Summary of the report

The report was transmitted to the Government on 10 September 1987, and tabled in the Parliament on 9 December 1987.

The report deals with five principal matters, namely:

  • the number of members appropriate for constituting the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ('AAT') for particular cases,
  • the appropriate expertise and experience of AAT members in determining particular cases,
  • the divisional structure of the AAT,
  • rules in legislation apart from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, which specify the way in which the AAT is to be constituted to hear cases under that legislation, and
  • the manner in which the effectiveness of the contribution of all members to the work of the AAT may be enhanced.
    The report contains recommendations for reform in these areas.

Response to the report

This report, and issues arising from a number of letters of advice that the Council had forwarded to the Attorney-General concerning the AAT, were subsumed into the review of the AAT conducted by a Steering Committee for the Review of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, chaired by the President of the AAT. The Council provided a submission to that review in March 1991.

The Committee reported to the Attorney-General on 29 November 1991. The subjects of the Council's submissions to the Review were substantially endorsed by the Review. Therefore, the Council was in broad agreement with the general direction taken in the AAT Review Report. There were only three matters on which the Council found it necessary to provide further advice to the Attorney-General: the award of costs in AAT proceedings; the terms of appointment of Conference Registrars; and, the co-location of the AAT and court registries (reproduced as Letter 5 in the Sixteenth Annual Report 1991-92).

The enactment of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Amendment Act 1993, which commenced on 16 June 1993, and changes in April 1993 to the AAT's Regulations, gave effect to some of the recommendations contained in the AAT Review Report. Other recommendations made by that review were implemented in the Law and Justice Legislation Amendment Act 1995.

Notably, one recommendation of the Council in Report No. 29 that was endorsed in the AAT Review Report was that the divisional structure of the AAT be abolished. The Attorney-General was of the view that this recommendation should not be implemented, as the existing divisional arrangements both reflected undertakings previously given to the veterans' community, and accommodated the special nature of taxation appeals.