Last updated 29 July 2016

What decisions can be reviewed?

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is empowered to review a decision made in accordance with a Commonwealth Act if that Act, or another Act, provides for such review (s 25 Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (Cth)). A decision includes the failure to make a decision. The decision-making function of the AAT is to make the correct or preferable decision. ‘Correct’ refers to the fact that a decision is correct in law, whereas ‘preferable’ refers to the decision being the decision that best reflects the relative merits of alternative decisions, which were open to the decision maker. Not all Commonwealth administrative activities are subject to an appeal to the AAT. The AAT’s jurisdiction is contained in more than 400 separate pieces of legislation, covering areas such as:

  • air navigation
  • customs and excise laws
  • Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits
  • environment (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, biodiversity conservation)
  • freedom of information
  • health insurance
  • criminal deportation, visas and cancellation of visas on character grounds
  • income tax
  • immigration
  • nursing homes
  • patents
  • pharmacy approvals
  • social security
  • student assistance and the Higher Education Loan Program
  • superannuation
  • taxation
  • tax agents’ and migration agents’ registration
  • trade marks
  • veterans’ entitlements (appeals from the Veterans’ Review Board)
  • workers’ compensation.

This is not an exhaustive list and provides only a general guide. In order to determine whether a particular matter can be appealed to the AAT, it is necessary to check the Act or Regulation under which the decision was made. In many cases, only particular decisions under these Acts or Regulations will be reviewable by the AAT. A full list of decisions reviewable under the AAT’s jurisdiction is accessible from the AAT website.