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AAT Bill passes: but not without Ruddock warning on July 1 2005.

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Nicola Roxon MP Shadow Attorney-General

17 March 2005

AAT Bill passes - but not without Ruddock warning on July 1

The AAT Bill passed the Senate today - vastly improved by Labor amendments, but not without some remaining flaws.

The amended Bill maintains the President’s status as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia with tenure.

But the Howard Government refused to accept Labor amendments to provide a minimum term of appointment for tribunal members. This proposal was supported by a unanimous Senate committee.

This leaves the way open to very short term appointments that could threaten the actual and perceived independence of the AAT and remains a flaw in the Bill that has passed.

Worryingly, despite its backflip on Tuesday, by Thursday the Government appears re-committed to its original plans to politicise the AAT.

Yesterday in the House the Attorney arrogantly threatened to use the Government’s numbers in the Senate after 1 July to go ahead and simply strip the AAT President of his status and independence as soon as it has the power to do so.

In other words - “we’ll wait till July 1 and do what we want”.

This petulant display from the Attorney-General demonstrates the overwhelming arrogance of a Government not willing to listen to the

community and letting the idea of controlling the Senate already go to its head.

17 March 2005.

For further information: David Robinson on 0427 519 394