Administrative Appeals Tribunal head to leave job early

The administrative head of the tribunal that reviews government decisions is leaving the job three months early as a Senate committee examines the legal body’s operations.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal registrar Sian Leathem told members on Friday she had tendered her resignation and would finish in the job on January 14, several sources in the tribunal told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal registrar Sian Leathem’s term was due to end in April.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

An AAT spokeswoman confirmed this and that the tribunal’s president, Justice David Thomas, was on leave until the end of the year.

Ms Leathem was initially appointed for a five-year term in April 2015 and was given a two-year extension in 2020, with her term due to end in April 2022.

The tribunal reviews government decisions across areas including migration, social services, taxation and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Ms Leathem came under fire at the Senate estimates hearings in October over the workloads of tribunal members, accusations of misleading Parliament and concerns about damage to the tribunal’s reputation.

She apologised to the legal affairs committee for a year-long saga over answers to questions about how the AAT answers parliamentary questions. Committee chair, Liberal senator Sarah Henderson, also took Ms Leathem to task during the hearing for having attempted to keep secret details about payments to part-time members and hours worked so as to avoid bringing the AAT into disrepute.

Senator Henderson said at the time the committee was “most disappointed” by the secrecy claim.

The committee is now holding a special inquiry into the performance and integrity of the administrative appeals system, including the selection process for AAT members and the importance of transparency and parliamentary accountability. It is due to report by the end of March.

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash has been contacted for comment.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Herald and The Age reported the tribunal was seeking legal advice over how it paid part-time members and had shifted to a timesheet system to ensure people weren’t being paid for more work than they did.

Fascinating answers to perplexing questions delivered to your inbox every week. Sign up to get our new Explainer newsletter here.

Most Viewed in Politics

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article