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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Page: 93

Senator LUDWIG (6:47 PM) —I will make a few prefatory remarks to keep you all on edge as to whether we will get the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Amendment Bill 2004 [2005] through tonight. It has been a long journey between when the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee—of which I was a member—first started the process of reading the Administrative Appeals Tribunal legislation and looking at the amendments. I came to the amendments in perhaps a bit of a cloud because I had also gone through the ART experience during 2001. I did form a view about how these amendments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Amendment Bill might be addressed in general and how the government would progress the matter. Of course, I also had the ability to raise the matter during estimates—and I read out the part in relation to the Refugee Review Tribunal and how that was impacting upon existing members of both the MRT and the RRT at the time. Additionally, the government’s drive and expectation at the time was to revamp the AAT to form the ART. In the end, after a long committee process with the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee, Labor opposed that proposal, for what we then said were all the right reasons.

The view I then adopted, perhaps prematurely, on this matter is that it might be another round of the same. However, this has been a better experience. The committee came up with a unanimous report. I congratulate the members, particularly the hardworking staff, on the work they put in. The government took the recommendations at face value and adopted them within the government amendments to this bill. I thank them for the time they spent going through those amendments, picking them up and examining them in detail. I asked them also to do that in relation to the additional amendments that we have now made.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a third time.