Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download PDFDownload PDF 

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL LEGISLATION COMMITTEE - 29/05/2000 - administrative appeals tribunal - Outcome 1—To provide aggrieved persons and agencies with timely, fair and independent merits review of administrative decisions over which the Tribunal has jurisdiction

Mr Cornall —Madam Chair, Senator Bolkus asked about the information concerning the ART that was requested this morning. Ms Pidgeon is here and is, I think, able to answer those questions.

CHAIR —Would that be helpful, Senator Bolkus?

Senator BOLKUS —Thank you, yes.

CHAIR —Thank you, Mr Cornall, Ms Pidgeon.

Ms Pidgeon —There are a number of questions that were asked this morning, and I hope to be able to help a bit more with those now. I have some material that I can pass up as well in response to some of them. You asked about costings for the ART. Overall, looking in particular at the out years of the ART, when it is fully established we expect it to cost about $52 million per annum, of which salaries would be about $32 million, and the property and supplier expenses about $20 million. I can break that down a bit more. Of the salaries—

Senator BOLKUS —Ms Pidgeon, we may have a way of circumventing this. If I asked you whether you would provide certain information, you would have it in writing there. Maybe you can table it and it will save you going through the—

Ms Pidgeon —I have working notes.

Senator BOLKUS —Go ahead then.

Ms Pidgeon —We are talking about salaries. Of that $32 million, we are talking about $17[frac14] million in staff and about $14[half ] million in members. Keep in mind that the costings we used may not end up being the final ones simply because, in the end, it will be up to the ART to decide. It speaks of staff. It will also be up to the ART to make final decisions on how it spends its supplier expenses. Our costings for the $20 million property and supplier expenses were based on in the vicinity of $6.5 million in property—plus or minus a million dollars because, as I said this morning, property does depend on the market and things that will be better known closer to the time it will be starting—and $13.5 million approximately in supplier expenses. This is of course notional because the ART will make its own decisions. There is work to be done by the relevant departments and tribunals in consultation with the department of finance to develop a detailed business plan that will make further decisions on leases and such which will affect the exact break-up of that amount.

You asked on what basis we had calculated the costs for redundancies. We worked on the basis of a 15.2 per cent reduction in staffing. That 15.2 per cent comprised savings from economies of scale combining several tribunals into one. Clearly there will be duplication; we can find some efficiencies there. Plus there will be a decrease in workload as a result of the change in second tier review where that will be not an automatic right. So that 15.2 per cent was used as a basis both for the staffing costs and for the redundancies. Again, the redundancies themselves will be subject to further work to be done, including by the ART president and key staff who will be involved in the start-up of the ART to decide just exactly what staffing the ART will have and therefore which staff will not be needed from the existing tribunals. Everything I am saying now is very much notional on the basis of costings that were done going into the budget, rather than what we can expect to be set in concrete at the end. But 15.2 per cent was the redundancy assumption.

You asked about members not being reappointed, the money aspect of that. We expect savings in member salaries of $3.9 million. That is the effect of not reappointing all members. As for savings from other tribunals, we know from the papers here that the AAT is providing a saving to help establish the ART. There are no net savings expected from the Family and Community Services portfolio, but there is expected to be a saving of $1.2 million approximately from the Immigration and Multicultural Affairs portfolio.

You asked where current tribunals have their offices, and I can give you this in writing. I am just handing out a breakdown of where all the tribunals have their offices in each of the state capitals. I will also add to my answer this morning where I said that in most cases we are expecting the new tribunal to be in the premises of the AAT. That is correct in most places, but I will just clarify where it is not. In Sydney we expect the ART to be in both the current premises of the AAT and the Refugee Review Tribunal. There is not enough room in the current AAT. In Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart we expect them to be in the AAT premises. In Canberra we are looking at the Migration Review Tribunal premises. In Darwin, the SSAT is the only tribunal that has a presence up there, so that is where we expect the ART to be.

You asked about classes of all cases currently before the four tribunals. I have got material from the Migration Review Tribunal which I will hand up. I have also got material from the Social Security Appeals Tribunal which I will hand up. With the Refugee Review Tribunal, I can simply tell you they are the decisions to refuse to grant, or a decision to cancel, protection visas. With the AAT, there are over 100 pages in the annual report of decisions, and I am sure you have that. This is page 133 of the annual report of the AAT.

Senator BOLKUS —That is okay.

Ms Pidgeon —That will give you the full coverage of the types of cases that currently go to the tribunals and will go to the ART.

Finally, as for the resources for the department in staffing for its role in relation to the ART, there will be four staff in the first year—that is the $0.3 million—but going down in subsequent years to one staff member having basically that monitoring role that I mentioned. That is the $0.1 million.

Senator BOLKUS —I asked this morning about the budget revealing a capital injection of $15 million and asked how was that going to be spent.

Ms Pidgeon —Yes, I have information about that. Most of that is in property, such as lease breaks. If we have to move out of premises, there will be costs involved in breaking leases early. There are fit-outs, staff redundancies—

Senator BOLKUS —How much have you budgeted for lease breaks?

Ms Pidgeon —This is just in terms of costing for going to budget and it may end up not being this figure, but the amount that we were looking at and in the costings was about $5 million in lease breaks.

Senator BOLKUS —What else was there?

Ms Pidgeon —We are talking about fit-outs, including depreciation over of time, of just under $7 million. There are IT establishment costs of about $0.75 million, and staff redundancies is included in that.

Senator BOLKUS —How much is that?

Ms Pidgeon —About $2.5 million.

Senator BOLKUS —You have budgeted savings of $28.5 million over the next four years. How were they calculated? Have you got that there?

Ms Pidgeon —They are mainly coming from the AAT, as is shown in the AAT budget papers.

Senator BOLKUS —Would you like to take that question on notice?

Ms Pidgeon —No. I can say that, of the total savings per year, about $7.9 million is coming from the AAT; $1.2 million is coming from the—

Senator BOLKUS —Sure, but what I would like to know is what part of the $7.9 million is going to be staff, what part of it is going to be other factors and so on.

Ms Pidgeon —I see what you mean. I would have to take that on notice. I do not think it has been calculated in that way.

Senator BOLKUS —Okay. Another question relates to the budget review of departmental establishment expenses for the ART of $2 million. What would that be spent on?

Ms Pidgeon —They are the one-off costs that will be involved in bringing on people to work for the ART, including the president. There are people working as an establishment team before the actual start-up on 1 February. They will be employed to set up the processes, to work towards the recruitment process. There will be costs, for example publicity—

Senator BOLKUS —How many staff are we talking about?

Ms Pidgeon —We are talking of about $1.4 million being spent on staff for that time, but that includes bringing the president on early, and key people.

Senator BOLKUS —The other question concerns the $0.3 million funding for A-G's in respect of ART issues, whatever that means.

Ms Pidgeon —They are staffing. We are talking about four staff in that first year, with $0.3 million. That is to work on all the aspects of the implementation and work with the president—and, of course, on the legislation in the meantime. That goes down $2.1 million in the out years, which is one staff member, and that is because although, obviously, we will not have the establishment work, we will have the monitoring work that I mentioned this morning.

Senator COONEY —Did you say that you expected to save $3.9 million through non-appointments?

Ms Pidgeon —There will be fewer members overall in the new tribunal.

Senator COONEY —Is that $3.9 million a year?

Ms Pidgeon —Yes, that is right.

Senator COONEY —That would be a lot of people, I would have thought. Do you know where they are coming from—whether from the SSAT or the AAT?

Ms Pidgeon —The expectation is the AAT.

Senator COONEY —They are going to be the part-timers, I suppose.

Ms Pidgeon —No, not necessarily. That will have to be worked out when the government has decided its approach to the bills.

Senator COONEY —You have put that $3.9 million down as a figure you can say.

Ms Pidgeon —That is the costing that we were working on. I said before that this all very notional; it may not end up being that amount. But certainly that is the way we were approaching it, coming into the budget.

Senator COONEY —So the approach is, `We will cut $3.9 million and work out where it will come from later, but we think it is going to come from—

Ms Pidgeon —No. We worked on the basis of looking at the expected case loads of each of the tribunals, both before the amalgamation and afterwards. We assumed that we would have about the same case loads per member, but because of the reduced number of cases we expect in the new tribunal you would have fewer members.

Senator COONEY —Do you know where the savings will be in the AAT? Will it be in terms of the Comcare cases or what, do you know?

Ms Pidgeon —No, I would not look at any particular area of cases, but certainly there will not be the second tier reviews as much—there will be a reduction in second tier reviews in the AAT of, for example, social security matters. But we looked at an overall reduction in workload; we did not look at saying that there would be fewer of this case or that.

Senator COONEY —In any event, the thing is that at this stage you cannot really be any more particular than to say there will be $3.9 million savings?

Ms Pidgeon —That is right, yes. Keep in mind that that is a notional costing. To prepare a budget you have make some estimates and that is where that comes from.

Senator COONEY —And the estimate is that you will probably save that across the various tribunals, but most of it from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal?

Ms Pidgeon —I would say that in terms of members we are looking at the AAT providing the members' savings. I should say it is not just in numbers of members; we just do not know at this stage what the Remuneration Tribunal is going to decide to pay the members either so there could be savings there as well. I do not know.

CHAIR —Thank you, Ms Pidgeon. Did you want to clarify something?

Ms Pidgeon —Yes. I just wanted to clarify something this morning when we were talking about the purchase of provider arrangements with the Immigration portfolio and Family and Community Services in terms of operational funding. While in terms of operational funding it is correct that we will go straight to the purchaser provider from 1 February with those portfolios, I did not add that the assets and liabilities will actually move directly to the ART at that time. So the assets and liabilities from the AAT and other tribunals will be moved across on 1 February.

Senator BOLKUS —Okay, thank you very much.

CHAIR —Thank you, Ms Pidgeon.