06 July 2015


The national Attorney-General, under the rubric 'Strengthening Legal Advice to the Commonwealth', has announced
Today the Australian Government completed the consolidation of the Australian Government Solicitor into the Attorney-General’s Department. The consolidation will strengthen the delivery of first class, seamless legal and legal policy advice to the Commonwealth.
The Attorney-General’s Department is the central legal policy department of the Commonwealth. AGS is the nation’s leading provider of legal services to government. Consolidation will result in a department that is the single source of authoritative advice on key Commonwealth legal and legal policy issues, and is well-placed to deliver on the core legal business of the Commonwealth and the most critical matters of state.
The Judiciary Amendment Act 2015 supports the consolidation by ensuring that there is minimal disruption to the operations of AGS and that it maintains its independent functional identity and name.
I look forward to working with AGS in their ongoing role led by the new Australian Government Solicitor, Mr Ian Govey AM.
The Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, Mr Chris Moraitis PSM, will shortly initiate a review of Commonwealth legal services to better organise, coordinate and align the provision of legal advice to government. The review will also examine the role of in house legal practices in Commonwealth departments and agencies.
The consolidation implements decisions made as part of the Government’s Smaller Government Reform Agenda, which was announced at the 2014 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook in December 2014.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has meanwhile announced
Today the Administrative Appeals Tribunal merged with the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT), Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) and Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT).
Decisions that could be reviewed in the former MRT-RRT are now reviewed in the AAT’s Migration & Refugee Division. Decisions that could be reviewed in the former SSAT are now reviewed in the AAT’s Social Services & Child Support Division. The AAT’s other jurisdictions are dealt with in one of the AAT’s six other Divisions which are the General Division, Freedom of Information Division, National Disability Insurance Scheme Division, Security Division, Taxation & Commercial Division and Veterans’ Appeals Division.
In general, the review processes that currently apply in the AAT, MRT-RRT and the SSAT will be maintained with some changes to aspects of our procedures. The two levels of merits review that currently exist for certain decisions reviewed by the SSAT will continue to be available with a second tier of review at the AAT.
Revised practice directions, guides, guidelines and forms have been developed to incorporate procedural and other changes made necessary by the legislative changes. We also seek to harmonise our procedures where possible and streamline our practice documents further in the future.