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 Report 36

Environmental Decisions and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, 1994

Summary of the report

The report was transmitted to the Government on 15 June 1994, and tabled on 20 September 1994.

The Council made nine recommendations for reform in the report. They were not as broad in scope as the preliminary views expressed in the discussion paper issued by the Council. The reasons for this included the views expressed during the consultation process, and the intervening reform of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ('AAT') practices and procedures. That reform had occurred as part of the implementation of a review of the AAT, which contributed significantly to preventing problems that had previously been encountered in AAT proceedings.

The Council's recommendations were related to the general nature and structure of AAT review of environmental decisions, and were principally targeted at reducing the potential for cost and delay in AAT proceedings.

The Council considered it important that merits review of environmental decisions:

  • provide review of all aspects of substantive decisions,
  • be structured so that review is able to be undertaken in the most timely and cost-effective manner, and
  • not repeat public consultation, and not intervene in the primary decision-making process while that process is ongoing.

The proposed reform of the nature of AAT review of environmental decisions had two aspects:

  • defining the scope of AAT review of environmental decisions, and
  • providing for special AAT powers and procedures for environmental matters, so that the cost and length of AAT review of environmental decisions is minimised.

Response to the report

The Government response to the report has been affected by a review of the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974, being conducted by the Environment Protection Agency ('EPA'). The Council understands that the response to its report is to be coordinated with the EPA's review.