New Bill To Establish Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal

Thursday 17 September 2020 @ 2.33 p.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure | Legal Research

The Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Bill 2020 (Tas) (the “Bill”) was introduced to Tasmania’s House of Assembly on 19 August 2020, by Minister for Justice, Elise Archer. The Bill passed the Assembly on 27 August 2020, was introduced to the Legislative Council on 15 September 2020 and is currently before the Council.

According to the Explanatory Memorandum, the Bill proposes the creation and establishing of the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“TasCAT”) which will be based in Hobart.

About the Bill

As indicated in the Explanatory Memorandum, this Bill is the first of several Bills that will be necessary to establish TasCAT. This Bill:

  • establishes TasCAT;
  • sets out TasCAT’s objectives;
  • provides for membership and staffing of TasCAT;
  • sets out TasCAT’s structure; and
  • assists with issues arising from co-location at the Barrack Street premises.

Future bills will expand TasCAT’s jurisdiction and will provide further powers including in relation to costs, diversity proceedings and alternative dispute resolution.

The Bill underwent a consultation process open to the public and relevant stake-holders. At close of the consultation period, on 29 May 2020, submissions had been received from seven interested parties.

As outlined in the EM, the establishment of TasCAT “will improve access to justice for the Tasmanian community. It will also allow for the better utilisation of administrative support and resources for proceedings in Tasmania”.

The Minister said in a Media Release “once the Bill has been considered by the Legislative Council, the next step will be to commence the appointment of the President of TasCAT”.

Comment on the Bill

The Minister said in her speech to Parliament:

“I am proud to be the Minister introducing this Bill which is the first legislative step in establishing a Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TasCAT) … Tasmania is currently the only state that does not yet have a single tribunal, noting the concept of a single Civil and Administrative Tribunal for Tasmania has been discussed and considered by Governments for over almost two decades … I am pleased to have prioritised this significant reform to establish the TasCAT.”

Rosalie Woodruff MP (Member for Franklin, Tasmanian Greens) commented:

“… the Greens are very pleased to support this bill which will finally bring into being a body that has been, as the minister said, decades in gestation -and the birthing, as we are seeing here, is being welcomed by all the different tribunals around Tasmania that are being incorporated through this bill into a single tribunal. A single one-stop shop which will, we hope and expect, from the structure that has been proposed, provide for far more efficiencies in the delivery of the administrative and civil decisions that are made by tribunals, and provide better access to justice for people in Tasmania …”

Brief Overview of Submissions Received

During the consultation stage, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (Tasmanian Branch) submitted:

“The Branch understands that the current Mental Health Tribunal will become part of this new structure as a stream within the Protective Division. This proposal is supported by the Branch for the many reasons that have been advanced during the extensive consultation process for TCAT … The Branch would fully support within any proposal for TCAT’s structure the appointment of a dedicated Deputy President to the stream for Mental Health and associated ancillary staff.”

The Australian Lawyers Alliance submitted:

“… the ALA is supportive of the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Bill 2020. The ALA supports the establishment of the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and considers it an important measure to achieve greater access to justice for disadvantaged people facing a range of civil issues including discrimination, dust disease, guardianship and administration issues, mental health and residential tenancy disputes.”

Community Legal Centres (Tasmania) said in their submission:

“… We are supportive of the Tasmanian Government’s intention to introduce a Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TasCAT) that encompasses many of the existing Tribunals and Boards operating in Tasmania.”

What's Next?

In her speech to Parliament, the Minister outlined the necessary stages for the establishment of TasCAT.

  • Stage one will establish TasCAT legislatively, but will allow those Tribunals and Boards that will amalgamate to continue functioning as independent bodies, co-located at Barrack Street in Hobart. This Bill is part of stage one of the establishment of TasCAT. It is important to note that this Bill, in and of itself, will not allow TasCAT to function. A stage two Bill will be needed before TasCAT can formally commence;
  • Stage two of the establishment of TasCAT will include the formal transfer of powers and staff from co-located Tribunals and Boards to TasCAT. During stage two, the relevant Tribunals and Boards will be dis-established. Substantive processes, powers and procedures for TasCAT will be included in a second Bill, which is expected to be tabled in early 2021; and
  • Stage three will occur after the commencement of TasCAT, and will involve the transfer of further powers and functions to TasCAT.

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