Issues with Lack of Accountability with Statutory Appointments

I’m writing this more to start a discussion on the matter and hopefully get some hard policy out of it at the end.

Statutory appointments are a necessary part of our functioning government and public service. It’s when the government of the day appoints people to fill ‘arms-length’ positions for government organisations such as the Administrative and Appeals Tribunal, the ABC board, Privacy and Human Rights Commissioners and others to provide a few examples.

Currently though, there are very few checks and balances surrounding these appointments with the majority of them being done by the relevant minister with virtually no processes on reviewing those positions outside of the relevant minister taking action themselves.

I’ve personally been concerned with the ‘Old Mate’ appointment trend that has been going on with recent governments of former politicians or political allies of certain parties being appointed to these positions with virtually no course of review and in my opinion it isn’t good enough to allow these decisions to go through unchecked.

To get the ball rolling, does anyone else see an issue with these appointments, and if so, what are some processes that could be put in place to make sure these appointments are meritorious?


One approach (which might have been tried before) is to farm it out to a parliamentary committee, containing at least 3 Government Members, 2 Opposition and 1 Crossbench (provided any exist; if no crossbench then their spot goes to the Opposition). Decisions to be made by minimum 2/3 majority.


Game of Mates 101 solution - sortition from a pool of expert candidates who meet the criteria. You cannot show favouritism if candidates are selected by lottery.
If you need to determine a criteria for the sortition short-list, you can sortition another committee of public servants to come up with that criteria.

Review of appointments is also supposed to happen by parliament as I understand it. Could probably be done also by a sortitioned pool of public servants or citizens.