24 September 2019

Crikey’s Inq investigative reporting project has exposed the shocking degree to which the Coalition has stacked the Administrative Appeals Tribunal with political hacks and Party mates: “66 of the 333 AAT decision-making members are former Liberal Party staffers, former Liberal or National politicians, party donors, members, unsuccessful Liberal candidates or Liberal government employees… 24 of those 66 appointees have no legal qualifications, including six of the AAT’s senior members… In contrast, when the Labor Party left office in 2013, only 16 members … had any sort of political connection.” And when the government’s own review criticised the practice, Christian Porter kept the report secret and continued to stack the tribunal: “Porter received Callinan’s recommendations in December last year, but it was seven months before the report was tabled in July this year. During that seven-month hiatus, in February this year (months away from an election the Coalition was expected to lose), Porter announced 86 new appointments or re-appointments to the AAT. Tellingly, 19 of these appointed members had close Liberal Party connections… Of these, Inq has determined at least eight have no law degree. All this was decided while the Callinan review was sitting, unreleased, inside the attorney-general’s office.”