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Law Council of Australia


Administrative Review Tribunal Bills

23 May 2024

Legislation to establish the Administrative Review Tribunal (ART), in place of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), was passed yesterday and welcomed by the Law Council.

In the years leading up to these reforms, the Law Council contributed to various significant inquiries about the operation of the AAT, where we raised concerns about key aspects of the system, including appointments processes, caseload management, procedural differences in the Migration and Refugee Division, and accessibility of merits review.

Since the Government’s announcement of its intention to abolish and replace the AAT, the Law Council has been pleased to engage with the Attorney-General’s Department, the Administrative Review Expert Advisory Group, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, and the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee as the reform process has progressed. 

As noted in the previous LCA Update (10 May 2024), representatives from the Law Council appeared at a public hearing of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee on 3 May 2024, to provide evidence on the Administrative Review Tribunal Bill 2023 and related bills.

The Law Council subsequently provided two supplementary submissions with the Committee, lodged on 6 and 9 May respectively. The first submission discussed natural justice in migration and refugee matters, while the second submission discussed the constitutionality of having a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia be appointed President of the Tribunal.

On 14 May, the Committee tabled its Report into the Bills. Pleasingly, the Report included 80 references to the Law Council, with extracts from our primary submission and appearance at the hearing featured consistently throughout.

The Majority report recommended that the Senate pass the Bills and made two additional recommendations:

In his Dissenting Report, Senator Scarr made seven recommendations. Five of these directly addressed the Law Council’s submission and evidence at the Committee’s public hearing, including:

Following the tabling of the Committee’s Report, the Bills were debated in the Senate, and passed on 16 May. However, because several Government amendments were made to the Bills in the Senate, they had to return to the House of Representatives prior to their passage. Amendments made include a review of the enabling legislation in the first five years, requiring the Minister to establish assessment panels when appointing members, and requiring the Minister or relevant Commonwealth entity to publicly respond, within a specified period, to systemic issues they are advised of by the Tribunal.



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