In July 2011, the Attorney-General, the Hon Robert
McClelland MP, approved the publication and promotion of the
Australian Administrative Law Policy Guide (Guide). The Guide is
designed to assist government agency policy makers engaged in
developing or amending administrative law legislation and policy
proposals, to enhance decision making frameworks and to thereby
improve decision making practices.
The Administrative Law Unit of the Attorney-General?s Department
(AGD) is responsible for providing policy advice for the
development of government proposals relating to administrative
decision-making regimes. Policy makers are required to consult with
the Unit as well as other stakeholders in the Commonwealth
administrative law system affected by the proposal.
The Guide provides policy makers with a framework for key
considerations to be taken into account in proposal development. It
operates in conjunction with consultation with the Administrative
Law Unit, together with a range of instruments available to policy
makers, including the Administrative Review Council?s Best Practice
Guides for Administrative Decision Makers.
The Guide is one of a raft of measures introduced following the
government?s adoption of the Strategic Framework for Access to
Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System, and forms part of the
Government?s Access to Justice Initiative. It is designed to ensure
that Commonwealth laws become clearer and easier to understand.
The Guide seeks to help identify administrative law issues in
legislation and policy development, and to provide a clear set of
principles and a methodology to apply in addressing any issues
The Guide sets out the core values of the Commonwealth
administrative law system, and encourages a whole-ofgovernment
approach to accountability, aimed at improving public trust and
confidence in the system, whilst demonstrating the government?s
commitment to providing fair and just decision-making.
The Guide seeks to form a more comprehensive Commonwealth
administrative law system through four universal principles:
Increased integration between Commonwealth administrative law
stakeholders is encouraged through earlier and more effective
communication when developing policy proposals. By clearly setting
out the roles and responsibilities of the Attorney-General and
related administrative law elements, the Guide enables policy
makers to understand their position within the broader
Lastly, the Guide provides direction on the appropriate use of
various types of decision-making and administrative law review
mechanisms, including merits review and judicial review, and
discusses the implications associated with outsourcing government
The Guide provides a set of principles and a methodology to help
policy makers draft clearly written laws and policy proposals
within a clearly defined Commonwealth administrative law framework.
It should facilitate the early identification of affected
administrative law stakeholders and encourage more appropriate and
better consultation practices. This in turn should result in
decision-makers considering the broader administrative law
framework and adopting better decision-making practices. The
government hopes that access to justice will be improved through
the development of clearer laws and better communication between
government agencies and the public.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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