Corruption experts call for new Public Appointments Framework in wake of AAT stacking

The AAT should be dissolved and replaced, and a new Public Appointments Framework established to ensure independent appointments, according to new research by the Centre for Public Integrity.

The research finds:

  • Public appointment processes are opaque, leading to allegations of “jobs for mates”, and partisan stacking of the AAT and the Fair Work Commission;
  • Selection criteria, job ads, and interview processes are not always required for appointments to statutory agencies, government boards, and advisory bodies;
  • A new Public Appointments Framework should be established which requires transparent selection criteria, public advertising, and independent selection panels, with Ministers required to make appointments from panel shortlist;
  • The AAT should be dissolved and replaced with an independent tribunal following a Public Appointments Framework process.

“Important government appointments are being made without selection criteria or an interview process. Everyone is expected to apply for jobs, why should these positions be any different?” said the Hon Anthony Whealy QC, Chair of the Centre for Public Integrity.

“The lack of an independent appointments process can lead to partisan appointments, like at the AAT. The AAT should be dissolved and replaced with a new tribunal with independent appointments,” said Mr Whealy.

“Statutory agencies like the Audit Office, the Ombudsman, and the ABC perform important accountability functions in our democracy. The public needs to be assured of their independence,” said Mr Whealy.

“Current practices mean that public appointments are vulnerable to politicisation. Reform is required to ensure that these appointments are independent and merits-based. The community needs to have confidence that public appointments will act in the public interest”, said Professor Allan Fels AO, former Chair of the ACCC, former member of the ABC/SBS Board nomination panel. 

“After heavy politicisation of ABC appointments, an independent selection process for board appointments was established. A bolstered version of this process should be used to guide all public appointments,” said Professor Fels.

Read the research in full here