The Federal Government has announced that it will abolish the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and replace it with a new Federal administrative review body. According to Attorney-General the Hon Mark Dreyfus, the AAT’s dysfunction has had a very real cost to the tens of thousands of people who rely on it each year to independently review government-body decisions. A dedicated taskforce within the Attorney-General’s department has been formed, and stakeholder consultation will be held on the design of the new body.

The government has said it will implement a transparent and merit-based appointment process. It has committed to providing additional capacity to enable the rapid resolution of existing backlogs, and to implementing consistent funding and remuneration arrangements to enable the new system to respond flexibly to fluctuating case numbers. Thus far, it has committed to appointing an additional 75 new members to the AAT to deal with existing backlogs.

To ensure the new body is user-focused, accessible, fair and efficient, the government says it will also improve additional support services and emphasise early resolution where possible. A single, modern, reliable and fit-for-purpose case management system will be introduced.

Current cases before the AAT will continue. Taxpayers who have already applied to the AAT for a review of a decision will not need to submit a new application. The government envisages that many current cases before the AAT will be decided or finalised before the establishment of the new Federal administrative review body. Any undecided remaining cases will transition to the new review body when it is established.