Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is an Australian tribunal which provides for quasi-judicial review of administrative decisions by the Australian federal government. It is not a court and not part of the Australian court hierarchy, however its decisions are subject to review by the Federal Court of Australia. The AAT was established by the "Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975" and started operation in 1976.


The AAT's jurisdiction is governed by statute. The Tribunal is not a court: the Australian Constitution delineates the separation of powers between the administrative, legislative and judicial branches of government, and as such it would be inappropriate for a court to review the actions (as against the legality of the actions) of administrative bodies. The Federal Court of Australia, which was established during the same period as the AAT, is empowered to make decisions on matters of law in many of the same arena as concern the AAT.

The AAT has jurisdiction to review a number of decisions made under Commonwealth legislation, including in the areas of taxation, immigration, social security, industrial law, corporations and bankruptcy. These decisions may have be made by officials including government ministers, departments, public servants with delegated authority and statutory government bodies. The authority to review administrative decisions is limited to specific areas of government administration where an Act, regulation or other legislative instrument provides for a review by the AAT. The Tribunal has no power to enquire into government decisions generally. More than 400 federal Acts provide for review by the AAT. The Tribunal also has powers to review the decisions of some other Australian tribunals, such as the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the Veterans Review Board. The Tribunal has no power to consider the constitutional validity of particular laws or the legality of government decision-making, but only whether decisions taken by government officials under that law have been taken in accordance with the relevant statutory requirements.

The AAT's review of government decisions is merit based: it considers whether, on the facts presented to the Tribunal, the correct decision was made in respect of the applicable law(s) and government procedures. It can 'stand in the shoes of the original decision maker' and reconsider the decision using whatever information is brought before it or available to it. The Tribunal is not bound by the rules of evidence and can use whatever information it chooses to inform its decisions (as can the administrators whose decisions are under review).


More than 90 individuals are currently appointed as members of the AAT.

A President, who must be a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, is appointed by the Attorney-General to head the Tribunal. The current President is Justice Garry Keith Downes AM. Other judges of the Federal Court and the Family Court may be appointed as 'Presidential Members', with the balance of the Tribunal's membership (Deputy Presidents, Senior Members and Members) being drawn from the legal profession or other professional groups.Members of the Tribunal come from a range of backgrounds and include persons with expertise in accountancy, aviation, engineering, environmental science, law, medicine, pharmacology, military affairs, public administration and taxation.Appointments to the Tribunal may be full or part time. Members are appointed for terms of up to 7 years.

Members of the Tribunal who are legally qualified and have 5 years standing, where authorised to do so, may exercise powers under a number of other Acts. This includes the power to issue telecommunications interception warrants and stored communications warrants under the "Telecommunications(Interception and Access) Act 1979", issue warrants and exercise related powers under the "Survelliance devices Act 2004" and review certificates that authorise controlled operations under the "Crimes Act 1914." Presidential Members and Senior Members who are legally qualified and have 5 years standing, may be appointed as an approved examiners under the "Proceeds of Crime Act 2002" The President and Deputy Presidents may be appointed as issuing authorities in relation to the making of continued preventative detention orders under the "Criminal Code"

A Registrar and Assistant Registrar assists the President in the management of the Tribunal, as well as overseeing the organisation's 150-plus staff.

cale of usage

The Tribunal has offices in all state capital cities, with the principal registries located in Sydney and Brisbane.

In July 2006, 7,538 applications were lodged with the Tribunal, 7,297 finalised with 8,173 matters current as at 30 June, 2007. Taxation and Social Security appeals made up over half the applications lodged during the period

External links

* [ Administrative Appeals Tribunal]
* [ Full text of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975]

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