It’s a glittering prize: a job as a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, one of the plummest appointments within the gift of a federal government.

Tenure of up to seven years, renewable. Annual salary of up to $385,000 for senior members. Removal only by order of the governor-general after a vote from both houses of parliament. No compulsory retirement age. The prestige of effectively being a judge sitting atop a multi-pronged legal institution whose annual budget is nine times more than the cost of running the High Court.