Attorney-General George Brandis yesterday announced a flurry of appointments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Federal Court. Most will be relatively uncontroversial, such as former Federal Court justice Dennis Cowdroy to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, or the current Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, Robert Bromwich, to the Federal Court. One intriguing choice for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, however is Don Morris. The profile Brandis distributed to journalists confirms Morris’ most recent position was as a “Senior Adviser to the then-Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator the Hon Eric Abetz” but says his previous experience is as a state government adviser and private secretary to the president of the Senate.
But a quick Google search reveals that Morris appears to be a Liberal Party lifer, having worked for the party his entire life since university. A profile of Morris from when he ran in the 2014 Tasmanian state election shows that Morris went straight to working for a Liberal senator after university, then worked for the governor of Tasmania, and for Liberal leader Will Hodgman, and Victorian premiers Ted Ballieu and Denis Napthine. It appears Morris took a job in Abetz’s office after failing to win a seat in the 2014 election.
Just what qualifications does Morris have that makes him an appropriate choice for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal? A spokesperson for the Attorney-General did not respond by deadline.
Morris has been appointed to the tribunal full time for five years. The amount he is paid has not been disclosed, but a tipster estimates his wage would likely be between $179,000 and $230,000 per year.