‘Full of Liberal mates’: Labor accuses Coalition of ‘stacking’ tribunal | Australia news

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Labor has blasted the attorney general Christian Porter for appointing six former parliamentarians and eight former staffers from Coalition ranks to the administrative appeals tribunal.

Porter announced a total of 34 new appointments to the tribunal on Thursday, including former Liberal Senate president Stephen Parry, who received a seven-year term after quitting politics in 2017 over his dual citizenship.

Among the new appointments were former Nationals MP and Howard government minister De-Anne Kelly and former Liberal MP Bob Baldwin, who both got part-time positions. Porter also appointed David Cox, a former Labor MP.

The former Liberal speaker of the West Australian parliament Michael Sutherland received a full-time job for a five-year term. Sutherland caused controversy for calling refugee activists and environmentalists “a bunch of cockroaches” during an unsuccessful bid to enter the Senate in 2007.

The former state parliamentarians to get positions were former South Australian Liberal MP Steven Griffiths and former Western Australian Liberal MP Joe Francis.

Coalition staffers to receive appointments included former Malcolm Turnbull adviser Tony Barry, former Alexander Downer adviser Phoebe Dunn and former Jeff Kennett chief of staff John Griffin.

Porter also announced that 52 current members of the AAT have been reappointed, dozens of whom are Tony Abbott-era appointments, including former ACT Liberal Gary Humphries.

The shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus said the government “has a shameful record on stacking the AAT with Liberal donors, former MPs, former staffers and mates – but it has outdone itself today”.

“Porter has announced a staggering 86 appointments to the AAT after parliament rose, full of Liberal mates,” he said.

Dreyfus said that Labor would “clean up this mess”, vowing to “restore a transparent merits-based policy to judicial appointments, and apply a similar system to the AAT for the first time”.

Full-time senior AAT members are paid more than $380,000 a year and even junior members are paid at least $190,000.

In November two of five new appointments to the AAT were from a Liberal background, including the finance minister Mathias Cormann’s chief of staff.

Since it took office in 2013, the Coalition government has been criticised for appointments to the tribunal including former MPs Andrew Nikolic and Karen McNamara and three former federal Liberal senators Helen Kroger, Grant Chapman and Chris Puplick.

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