Senate debates

Tuesday, 17 October 2023


Administrative Appeals Tribunal

5:54 pm

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

I rise to take note of the annual report of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for the year ending 30 June 2023. We know that the Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, is hell-bent on introducing a new regime in relation to administrative law that, in my view, is not informed by the evidence. I've consistently referred to this in Senate estimates—putting the actual evidence with respect to the performance of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on the record—and today I seek to refer to the most recent annual report released by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which again indicates that the Attorney's attack on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal is completely unjustified.

I'll refer to the key performance indicators, which are referred to on page 18 of the annual report of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, in relation to, firstly, 'Number of AAT applications and IAA referrals finalised'. I note that the performance indicator was met. The target for the number of finalised matters was 42,024. The result was 42,862 matters—performance indicator met. The next performance indicator is 'Clearance ratio of AAT finalisations and IAA decisions'. The performance indicator was a target of 100 per cent. That means the performance indicator was about clearing as many matters as were entering the system. What was the result? It was that 104 per cent were cleared—key performance indicator exceeded.

No. 3 is 'Proportion of AAT applications and IAA referrals finalised within a time standard'. The target was 75 per cent. The result was 61 per cent. That indicator was not met, but the result was better than the previous year, in which it was 60 per cent. No. 4 is 'Number of AAT and IAA decisions published'. The target was at least 5,000. The number published was 5,032—met. Item No. 5 is 'AAT user experience rating'. This is extraordinarily important because many of the applicants before the AAT are self-acting and this is basically a census, a survey, of the perception of the people actually engaging in the system through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. So this is one of the most important indicators. It's also a survey with respect to the legal representatives of those persons who are being represented through the AAT system. So what is that performance indicator telling us? The target was at least 70 per cent satisfaction rate. The result was 72 per cent satisfaction rate—KPI met.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is 'Proportion of appeals against AAT and IAA decisions allowed by the courts'. This is an extremely important indicator because, if the AAT were not working, many of the decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal would be overturned by the Federal Court. But what are we seeing? The target was less than five per cent of decisions being overturned on appeal. The actual result was 2.1 per cent—definitely under target. So that KPI has been met.

So, when we look globally at the performance of the AAT—notwithstanding the diatribe which the Attorney launched against the AAT last year—and when we actually look at the evidence, it does not support the Attorney-General's attack on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The evidence does not support the Attorney's position with respect to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and that is in a context where the membership of the AAT was extremely low. So they actually produced those results with low membership within the AAT—in terms of the numbers of members. So that's an outstanding result for the AAT for the year ending 30 June 2023.

We are left to reflect on why it is that the Attorney has launched a so-called reform of an institution in our Commonwealth system of government which is actually working, as proven by the evidence. We're going to go through all the cost, all the disruption and all the delay that is going to be occasioned by introducing a new administrative law system in this country, and it simply is not justified by the evidence. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.