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Administrative law

Law that regulates government decision making

Administrative law is the body of law that regulates government decision making. Access to review of government decisions is a key component of access to justice.

The Australian Government works to improve the quality of access to justice for individuals by adopting:

  • best practice in administrative decision making
  • effective review and accountability mechanisms.

The federal administrative law system

Administrative law offers accountability mechanisms that apply to government decision making about individual matters.

Accountability mechanisms include:

The Australian Government Administrative Law Policy Guide helps policy makers understand and identify administrative law issues in draft legislation or proposals.

The Attorney-General's role

The Attorney-General has policy responsibility for administrative law. This includes oversight of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and legislative instruments.

The Attorney-General's approval must be sought for amendments to Acts for which they have responsibility, particularly the following:

The Legislation Act 2003 provides for the making, registration, publication, parliamentary scrutiny and sunsetting of Commonwealth delegated legislation.

A new system of federal administrative review

The Australian Government has introduced legislation that would abolish the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and establish a new, fit-for-purpose federal administrative review body to be named the Administrative Review Tribunal (the Tribunal).

The government has introduced 3 bills to parliament:

  • Administrative Review Tribunal Bill 2023 (the ART Bill)
  • Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions No.1) Bill 2023
  • Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions No.2) Bill 2024.

The reform aims to increase transparency of administrative decision-making, and promote public trust and confidence in Australia’s system of administrative review.

Find out more about the new system of federal administrative review.

Administrative Review Council

The Administrative Review Council (ARC) was an independent policy advisory body established under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975. The ARC issued reports and best practice guides on administrative law issues. In 2015, the ARC was discontinued and its functions were consolidated into the Attorney General's Department. The Minister for Finance announced this as part of the May 2015 Smaller Government reforms.

The ARC was not a merits review body. It did not examine individual claims or hear appeals.

Under the ART Bill, the ARC would be re-established to inquire into systemic challenges in administrative law, monitor the performance of the Commonwealth administrative review system and support education and training for Commonwealth officials.

For copies of the ARC's 50 published reports and other publications, including its best practice guides, visit the Administrative Review Council – Publications page.

More information

Government agencies can seek specific advice on decision-making structures, review of decisions, regulatory powers provisions and legislative frameworks by emailing AdminLaw@ag.gov.au. Advice on matters relating to sunsetting under the Legislation Act can be sought by emailing sunsetting@ag.gov.au.

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