Brandis admits he personally appointed Liberal donor to Tribunal post

Attorney-General George Brandis has made the astonishing admission this afternoon that he personally approached a lawyer who represented his son and who has donated money to the Liberal National Party in order to offer him a senior role on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) with a salary of $370,000 per year for the next five years.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

BRANDIS ADMITS HE PERSONALLY APPOINTED LIBERAL DONOR TO TRIBUNAL POST

 

Attorney-General George Brandis has made the astonishing admission this afternoon that he personally approached a lawyer who represented his son and who has donated money to the Liberal National Party in order to offer him a senior role on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) with a salary of $370,000 per year for the next five years.

 

He has also – by his own admission – failed to notify cabinet of this conflict of interest when it signed off Mr Theo Tavoularis’s appointment.

 

This is shocking. The Attorney-General – the first law officer of this country – has effectively admitted to cherry-picking his mate, and an LNP donor, for a prestigious and well-paid appointment without notifying cabinet.

 

Senator Brandis must immediately answer the following: Did he consult his department at all before approaching Mr Tavoularis? Did anyone recommend Mr Tavoularis to the role, or did Senator Brandis act alone?

 

Did Mr Tavoularis act for Senator Brandis’s son at reduced rates, or for no fee? Or did Senator Brandis pay standard commercial rates? If he did not pay standard commercial rates, there are serious questions of probity that must be addressed by Senator Brandis.

 

It is vital that the Attorney-General maintain the integrity and independence of tribunals for which he is responsible, and equally vital that the public have faith that their government is acting properly in the hundreds of prestigious and well-paid appointments it makes each year.

 

Senator Brandis is yet to give a full explanation, or justification for Mr Tavoularis’s appointment. He cannot simply say the appointment “followed protocol” without specifying what that protocol is.

 

These are allegations with serious implications that go to the reputation of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and other bodies to which the Attorney-General makes appointments. It is well past time for Senator Brandis to properly account for his actions.

 

MONDAY, 12 SEPTEMBER 2016