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Tuesday, 18 May 1993
Page: 772


Senator TATE (10.10 p.m.) —I had not intended to speak on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Amendment Bill 1992 [1993], and I will only do so for a very short time. I thought it appropriate to acknowledge in a bipartisan way the great contribution which Senator Durack has made to the development of this area of Australia's public life. When inhabitants of this great Commonwealth are affected by a decision taken by a Commonwealth department or agency, or by any decision maker, which can affect their enjoyment of life—or access even to a livelihood by way of a licence that could be granted by some Commonwealth agency—then it is extremely important that the decision maker be subject to scrutiny and judgment, and that the person affected know that any grievance will be looked at in a fair way. As Senator Durack pointed out, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, in its various forms and subsets, has been a very important safeguard for Australians against the kind of arbitrary or partial decision-making that can have such an adverse effect on a person's life.

  It is important to acknowledge the contribution which Senator Durack has made to the evolution of the system. He spoke modestly—almost as though he were a mere observer—of the genesis and birth of this particular Administrative Appeals Tribunal process. Of course, he was more than an observer; he was a very active participant. Much of his creative work as a member of the Liberal Party in this Parliament—in opposition and in government—and particularly as Attorney-General, will be found in the contribution he has made to this area of decision making within the community.

  Senator Durack also mentioned that the scope for women to participate in the tribunal indicates a way in which decision making tribunals might be better constituted to serve Australian society. This particular organisation, which is only 17 years old, has the capacity to be innovative, not only with regard to the development of alternative dispute resolution processes, but also with regard to the personnel of which it is formed. In many different and perhaps unexpected ways, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal is part of Australia's pre-eminent contribution to the protection of citizens against arbitrary or partial decisions of governments, which is acknowledged internationally as of worldwide significance. I believe that the tribunal has much to commend it. In so far as its genesis enjoyed the support and encouragement of Senator Durack, it is appropriate in the course of this debate to pay him tribute.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.

  Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.