Former High Court judge Ian Callinan (pictured) will conduct a sweeping review of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) amid threats by the government of a radical shake-up for the court over a string of controversial decisions to allow serious offenders to enter or remain in Australia.
The move has been welcomed by Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi who has told the Triple M radio network that the review is happening after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton's criticised an AAT decision to overturn a government visa cancellation for a Chinese drug smuggler and Triad member who was jailed in Sydney for 10 years.
The Australian reports, with the AAT facing accusations of activism for its willingness to set aside government visa cancellations and refusals, the statutory three-year review will examine whether it continues to meet community expectations and public trust.
Earlier this year, it also overturned a decision to deport a pedophile priest to Ireland after he was released from jail in Australia on the grounds of age and that he was unlikely to reoffend.
Another involved setting aside a decision by the government to deny a visa to a Palestinian man who had been jailed by an Israeli military court for planning a bomb attack. The AAT questioned the validity of the Israeli court’s conviction.
Mr Dutton (pictured above), who last week warned that he would “sort out” the tribunal, has become frustrated with the frequency with which the AAT sets aside visa cancellations or denials by the government.
The AAT, which is administered by the Attorney-General’s Department, has been in Mr Dutton’s sights since he was appointed immigration minister in 2015, and then Home Affairs Minister late last year.
He has cited a growing list of decisions that have allowed criminals slated for deportation to remain in Australia and described some of the decisions in the past three years as “bizarre”.
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