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Wednesday, 9 November 1983
Page: 2545

Question No. 368


Mr Leo McLeay asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice , on 24 August 1983:

(1) How many people have been appointed to hear appeals in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

(2) What is the average length of time between lodgment and finalisation of an appeal.

(3) Has this period of time lengthened since June 1982; if so, what steps will the Government take to reduce this time lag.


Mr Lionel Bowen —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) As at 31 October 1983 there were 45 full and part time members of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Further appointments are under active consideration.

(2) The average length of time between lodgment and finalisation of an appeal varies markedly between the various jurisdictions of the Tribunal. It is also influenced by whether a case is settled without the necessity to proceed to a formal hearing. The two largest jurisdictions are those arising under the Social Security Act 1947 (64 per cent of all applications 1982-83) and the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1971 (17 per cent).

Of the Social Security matters in 1982-83:

75 per cent were finalised without the need for a formal hearing. For these, average time between lodgment and settlement was between four and five months.

Of the 25 per cent which went to a formal hearing

80 per cent are invalid pension cases. These take on average 10 months to finalise.

the average time to finalise the remaining 20 per cent is seven to eight months

Of the Compensation matters in 1982-1983

40 per cent were finalised without the need for a formal hearing. For these the average time between lodgment and settlement is seven to eight months.

60 per cent go to a formal hearing. The average time to finalise these is 13 months.

In relation to applications concerning other areas of jurisdiction the majority of applications are only finalised after a formal hearing and the average length of time between lodgment and finalisation is six months. Those applications that do not go to a hearing would take on average between three and four months to finalise. The average overall would be five months.

(3) Generally, the period of time taken to finalise matters has lengthened since June 1982.

The time taken to finalise matters is largely within the control of the parties . Problems of delay are particularly apparent in cases where it is necessary to obtain specialist medical opinion.

To the extent that the time taken is within the control of the AAT it is expected that the situation will improve following initiatives the Government has taken to make new appointments to the Tribunal, particularly for the Tribunal's social security jurisdiction. Attention is also being given to providing additional accommodation and staffing for the Tribunal.