Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Did Attorney-General 'Gorgeous' George Brandis think no-one would notice he is intent on politically stacking the Administrative Decisions Tribunal?

Attorney-General for Australia Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, media release, 6 May 2016:

Appointments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
6 May 2016

Today I announce 76 reappointments and appointments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Mr John Cipolla and Ms Kira Raif have been reappointed as full-time senior members for five years. Mr John Billings has been reappointed as a full-time senior member for three years.
Mr Shahyar Roushan has been reappointed as a part-time senior member for three years.

The following members have been reappointed on a full-time basis for three years:

Mr Antonio Dronjic
Mr Alan Dino Duri
Ms Alison Mercer
Mr Hugh Lindsay Sanderson, and
Mr Christopher Jeremy Smolicz.

Mr Sean Erik Baker has been reappointed as a part-time member for five years.

The following members have been reappointed on a part-time basis for three years:

Ms Robyn Margaret Anderson
Dr William Appleton
Ms Michelle Diane Baulch
Ms Angela Therese Beckett
Ms Margret Bourke
Mr Alexander Reinhard Byers
Dr Niall Francis Cain
Mr Steven Cullimore
Ms Jean Cuthbert
Mr Bronte John Earl
Ms Kathryn Ann Edmonds
Mr Stavros Georgiadis
Dr Martin John Glasson
Dr Beverley Grehan
Ms Patricia Alida Hall
Ms Julia Ann Leonard
Ms Susan Georgina Lewis
Dr Geoffrey Markov
Ms Sally Mayne
Mr Paul Noonan
Dr Aruna Reddy
Ms Andrea Schiwy
Ms Wan Shum
Ms Rania Skaros
Ms Alison Smith
Ms Meenakshi Sripathy
Dr Bruce Albert Swanson
Dr Robin Taylor, and
Ms Yvonne Mary Webb.

These members have been reappointed to the Tribunal commencing on 1 July 2016, except Dr Cain and Dr Grehan who will commence on 16 May 2016.

Dr Denis Dragovic, Mr Theodore Tavoularis and Ms Adria Marissa Poljak have been appointed as full-time senior members for seven, five and three years, respectively.
Ms Chelsea Rebelle Walsh has been appointed as a full-time senior member for three years. Ms Walsh was previously a part-time senior member of the Tribunal.

The following part-time senior members have been appointed:

Ms April Christina Freeman and Mr John Sosso for seven years
Mr Peter Edward Nolan for five years, and
Professor Michael John McGrowdie for three years.

The following full-time members have been appointed:

Mr Clyde Campbell and Mr Peter Vlahos for seven years
Ms Angela Cranston, Ms Justine Clarke, Mr Jeffrey Robert Thomson and Ms Jennifer Cripps Watts for five years, and
Ms Moira Brophy and Mr Mark Gordon Hyman for three years.
In addition, the following people have been appointed as part-time members for seven years:
Mr Michael Bruce Hawkins
Ms Kate Juhasz, and
Ms Saxon Rice.

The following people have been appointed as part-time members for five years:

Ms Ann Barbara Brandon-Baker
Dr Louise Bygrave
Ms Mila Foster
Mr John Fitzsimons Godfrey
Dr Eric Knight
Mr Michael Manetta
Ms Jane Louise Marquard
Ms Adrienne Millbank
Mr Seamus Francis Rafferty
Mr James Edward Silva, and
the Honourable Judith Mary Troeth AM.

The following people have been appointed as part-time members for three years:

Ms Rhonda Ruth Bradley
Mr Marshal John Douglas
Ms Julie Dianne Forgan
Mr Paul Samuel Glass
Dr Heidi Gregory
Mr William Bruce Kennedy, and
Dr Sofia Khan.

These appointments will commence on 30 May 2016, except Ms Walsh who will commence on 6 May 2016, Ms Clarke who will commence on 1 August 2016, Ms Brophy who will commence on 13 June 2016 and Mr Silva who will commence on 2 August 2016.

I congratulate the appointees and look forward to the contribution they will make to the Tribunal.

Breakdown of that announcement by Buzz Feed News, 3 November 2016:

Attorney general George Brandis has been slowly stacking an independent tribunal with failed Liberal candidates, unemployed political staffers and party donors, with some of the jobs worth more than $300,000 per year.

Earlier this year, Brandis quietly announced a number of appointments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which deals with complaints and appeals made against federal agencies.

The tribunal has multiple divisions and makes important decisions around refugee applications, freedom of information requests, disability and veterans’ appeals, and determinations around child support payments.

Brandis’ AAT announcement came on the final work day before the election date was announced, ensuring his choices would be appointed even if the government lost the election.

As BuzzFeed News previously revealed, among those appointed to the tribunal is Brisbane lawyer Theo Tavoularis, who donated to the Liberal National Party in the lead up to the 2013 election and recently represented Brandis’ son in court in a criminal matter….

But Tavoularis is far from the only well-connected individual that Brandis has appointed to the AAT in the past 18 months.

In the same pre-election period, Brandis appointed Ann Brandon-Baker (pictured), who was Scott Morrison’s chief of staff during his time as immigration minister.

There was also Dr Denis Dragovic, who had just failed in his bid for Liberal pre-selection in the prized Victorian seat of Goldstein. He was appointed by Brandis to review refugee appeals for the next seven years.

John Sosso also scored a last minute Brandis appointment. The Queensland lawyer served as a departmental head under Liberal National Party premier Campbell Newman until last year, when he was sacked by the incoming Labor government…..

Liberal MP Tim Wilson left the Australian Human Rights Commission earlier this year to run for parliament, but his senior adviser Louise Bygrave was taken care of - she was appointed to a seven-year term in the disability services division of the tribunal.

Fresh from failing to win a seat in the South Australian parliament as a Liberal candidate in 2014, Michael Manetta was given a part time tribunal place for the next five years.

Saxon Rice, who served as a Queensland LNP MP for just three years before losing her seat at the 2015 state election, was rewarded by Brandis with a seven year appointment.

Former Liberal candidate in Victoria for the federal election of 1998, Peter Vlahos, got a seven year appointment.

The final familiar name in the pre-election announcement was former Liberal senator Judith Troeth who was tapped to join the migration and refugee tribunal for five years.

Six weeks earlier, Brandis quietly made more appointments to the tribunal. Among them were unemployed staffers, failed candidates and donors.

Justin Meyer, who was appointed for five years full time, was an adviser to former Victorian Liberal premiers Ted Baillieu and Dennis Napthine and electoral records show the lawyer donated more than $11,000 to the Liberal party in 2010-11.

Former ACT Liberal leader Bill Stefaniak was appointed for five years and now sits on the freedom of information division of the tribunal.

Dr Bennie Ng, who served as head of social policy in former prime minister Tony Abbott’s office, was also given a seat on the tribunal’s FOI division for five years.

Then there was Anne-Marie Elias, who was a former senior policy adviser to NSW minister Andrew Constance. Elias got a part time, five-year term on the tribunal’s social services and child support division.

It’s not the first time Brandis’ appointments to the AAT have raised eyebrows. In mid-2015, as some members’ tenure on the tribunal expired, the attorney general staged what was considered a “purge” of the migration and refugee division.

As reported by The Australian, 38 members had terms expiring and Brandis re-appointed only seven of them.

One of the new members of the tribunal was Helena Claringbold, a former staffer to Tony Abbott who, according to electoral returns, donated $45,000 to the Liberal party in 2002.

Another was Nick McGowan who ran as the Liberal candidate for the Victorian seat of Jagajaga in 2013. He failed to win, and was appointed by Brandis for two years on the tribunal.

Starting at the same time, in July 2015, was Brendan Darcy, who had recently served as adviser to former Liberal defence minister Kevin Andrews.

There was also David McCulloch - who had recently worked as a policy adviser to Liberal MP Paul Fletcher and as a staffer to former Liberal immigration minister Amanda Vanstone - and Michael Cooke, who was an adviser to Tony Abbott.

Former Liberal party senator Karen Synon had her term extended full time for another five years on the tribunal.

Bruce MacCarthy, who was a NSW Liberal MP during the 90s, was appointed for two years in the migration and refugee division.

And finally, George Brandis’ former Senate colleague, ACT Liberal Gary Humphries, found himself appointed deputy president of the tribunal for four years, on a salary of $450,000 a year.

No comments: