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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Page: 80

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (5:53 PM) —The government does not support the opposition’s amendment which would specify a five-year minimum term of appointment. As Senator Ludwig has outlined, this goes along with recommendation 2 of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee that a minimum term of three years be required. One of the objectives of the bill is to improve the flexibility of the tribunal and its capacity to manage its workload. There is currently no minimum term in the legislation. The government believes that specifying minimum terms of appointment would be inconsistent with this objective. It would remove the flexibility to make short-term appointments of specialist or generalist members to help the tribunal resolve a peak in a particular type of workload. It would also place the president in a straitjacket in managing the tribunal’s ongoing workload. This proposal would also be inconsistent with the appointment of members to other federal merits review bodies, namely the Migration Review Tribunal, the Refugee Review Tribunal, the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the Veterans Review Board. There is no minimum term of appointment to any of these bodies. For these reasons the government opposes this amendment, but I appreciate that the opposition has the support of the Democrats and it will be passed.

Question agreed to.