Under s.27 of the Administrative Appeal Tribunal Act 1975, where legislation that a decision is made under by an APS agency or Minister (such as the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988) allows for merits review of that decision, then the aggrieved person may request a relevant APS agency or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to reconsider the merits of that decision and determine the correct or preferable decision.
The Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 sets out grounds for which a person aggrieved by an APS agency or Minister's administrative decision under legislation (such as the Public Service Act 1999) can seek judicial review of that decision by the Federal Magistrates Court or Federal Court. Judicial review is different from merits review because the courts cannot look at the substance of the decision-maker's assessment of the facts, only the process by which that decision was made. The courts cannot remake the decision, so typically the remedies available from judicial review involve remitting the decision to the original decision-maker with an order to remake the decision according to law. As a matter of public policy, the availability of judicial review is not usually seen as an adequate substitute for merits review.
Under the Ombudsman Act 1976, the Commonwealth Ombudsman has wide powers to investigate complaints about administrative actions of most APS agencies to see if they are wrong, unlawful or discriminatory. Following an investigation, the remedies offered by the Ombudsman are:
- recommendations to APS agencies;
- specific reports to the Commonwealth Government; or
- broader reports making recommendations to the Commonwealth Government about systemic problems.