Dreyfus said that argument was proof that Dutton and other former coalition cabinet ministers had packed the court with political allies.
“Yes, the AAT is stacked with political appointees and that’s because he and his colleagues spent nearly a decade stacking the AAT with political appointees,” Dreyfus told parliament.
“They are attacking their own miserable record.”
Allegations of bullying by tribunal members emerged on Monday after Queensland Labor Senator Nita Green asked the tribunal’s chief operating officer, Jamie Crew, about the number of members subject to complaints.
Crew said 19 members, including senior members and vice presidents, had received more than one complaint of bullying, harassment or discrimination against them since July 2016. Two of those members have since left. One member was the subject of five complaints.
“This is totally unacceptable, and this is yet another problem that our government will have to tackle,” Dreyfus told parliament.
The AAT has not released the names of the members who have been the subject of complaints. The court had 311 members at the end of June this year, 11 of them with the status of judges, some of them being judges of the Federal Court and the Family Court.
The other 300 are non-judicial members from diverse backgrounds who work in five divisions: general, tax, national disability insurance, migration and social services.
Jobs in the AAT are statutory appointments for a maximum of seven years. Salaries for full-time members range from $193,990 to $496,560 for vice presidents.
Analysis of appointments by the Australia Institute, a progressive think tank, examined 974 appointments to the AAT and its precursors since 1996 and found a significant increase in political appointments after the Coalition was elected in 2013.
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