Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 410. Updated Tuesday, 20 May 2014

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Tribunals merge to simplify review system

The amalgamation of Australia's major review tribunals will streamline and simplify the nation's decision-making review system as well as save money, according to the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis.

The panels to be amalgamated from 1 July 2015 are the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal, Social Security Appeals Tribunal, Classification Review Board and merits review of Freedom of Information (FOI) matters,

"The reforms will remove unnecessary layers of bureaucracy and deliver an improved and simplified merits review system for all Australians," Senator Brandis said.

"The measure is expected to save $20.2 million over four years."

Merits review of FOI matters, currently undertaken by the Office of the Australian Information Commission (OAIC), will be transferred to the AAT from 1 January 2015.

'One-stop shop' for decision reviews

The Attorney-General said the merger of merits review Agencies would provide an accessible "one stop shop" for external merits review and would ensure that end-users had a review option that was fair, less confusing, just, economical, informal and quick.

"Most States and Territories have now established a similar 'super tribunal' for merits review, with considerable success," Senator Brandis said.

"The complex and multi-level merits review system for FOI matters has contributed to significant processing delays.

"Simplifying and streamlining FOI review processes by transferring these functions from the OAIC to the AAT will improve administrative efficiencies and reduce the burden on FOI applicants."

Senator Brandis said the AAT would receive a funding boost to assist with the backlog and to better meet acceptable timeframes

Under the new arrangements, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner will be established as a separate statutory office and will continue to be responsible for the exercise of statutory functions under the Privacy Act 1988 and related legislation.

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