On the Record - Recent reporting regarding the Department of Social Services and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

16 May 2022

The article, Administrative Appeals Tribunal demoted barrister for making decisions against the government, written by Mr Eric Tlozek and first published on the ABC News website on Sunday 15 May 2022, contained inaccurate accusations about the department’s Secretary. The accusations were then also featured in an ABC TV News story later that night.

The article reports on a number of serious accusations made by current AAT part-time member, Mr Michael Manetta. These accusations include that the Secretary had inappropriately met with senior members of the AAT to “complain about a case he [Mr Manetta] adjudicated”. The Secretary did not do so.

The Secretary has regular meetings with senior members of the AAT as part of routine stakeholder engagement. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss strategic issues and changes in policy that may impact the AAT. There is no discussion about the actions of any member of the AAT or specific details of any individual AAT cases during these meetings.

Prior to publishing the article, the journalist did not engage with, or seek comment from, the Secretary or the department. Following publication the Secretary sought that there be appropriate acknowledgement from the ABC that he was not consulted prior to publication and reiterated that the premise of the allegation was false. The ABC has subsequently acknowledged the Secretary’s concerns.

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