We write to provide the Attorney-General’s taskforce and the Expert Advisory Group with The Tax Institute’s views of the core principles that should be prioritised in the design of the new administrative review body (new review body) that will replace the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
In the development of these principles, we have closely consulted with our National Dispute Resolution Technical Committee to prepare a considered response that represents the views of the broader membership of The Tax Institute.
The Tax Institute supports the Government’s intent to address the performance and integrity of Australia’s administrative review system. A wholly independent review body that conducts independent merit reviews is fundamental to ensure accountability and transparency in the decision-making of Commonwealth government ministers, departments and agencies. The Government’s announcement to abolish the AAT, presents the opportunity to ensure the new review body is accessible, fair, efficient and economical in conducting merit reviews.
We therefore consider that the following core principles should be prioritised when designing the new review body:
- Efficient and timely resolution of disputes
- Easier access to adequate legal representation
- Transparency of triaging processes
- A separate division for taxation and small business taxation, with dedicated members with tax expertise allocated to both these divisions
- Expediting the resolution of disputes on precedential issues
Further details on the importance of these core principles, and recommendations on how these principles can be achieved in a new administrative review body, are contained in our submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
If the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act, 1975 (AAT Act) is repealed and replaced with a new statute, we consider that certain provisions should be carried over to the statute which gives effect to the new review body. These provisions are:
- Division 3 of Part IV – Alternative Dispute Resolution Processes
- Section 33(1AB) Parties etc. must assist Tribunal
- Section 35(2) Private hearings
- Section 35(3) Orders for non-publication or non-disclosure.
We would like to invite members of the Attorney-General’s taskforce and the Expert Advisory Group to discuss these priorities and recommendations in a meeting with our National Dispute Resolution Technical Committee. Our Committee is comprised of highly experienced practitioners and can provide expertise and assistance in the design of an independent review system that best serves the interests and needs of the Australian community.