Between 1 January 2015 and 18 May 2020, the AAT finalised 18,417 protection visa cases. On average, this is a rate of 3,423 cases per year. People seeking asylum were successful in securing a protection visa in 14 per cent of these cases.

However, success rates before different tribunal members varied significantly, ranging from 0 per cent through to 89 per cent, for tribunal members who decided over 50 cases. Fifteen of these decision-makers rejected applications in over 95 per cent of their cases. One decision-maker rejected every application he heard in the five-year period.

Some of this variation may be explained by the fact that cases are not allocated randomly; tribunal members often specialise in cases from certain countries, as well as in particular types of claims. For example, some decision-makers may specialise in specific types of cases from specific countries that have particularly high or low success rates.

Depending on an applicant’s country of origin, their chance of success varied from zero to 90 per cent (for countries with more than 20 applicants).

Mia Bridle

Even within countries, there was a significant degree of variation. For example, asylum seekers from Iran had an overall success rate of 49 per cent. However, depending on the tribunal member, an Iranian asylum seeker's chance of securing a visa fluctuated from between 0 per cent to 93 per cent.  Again, this variation may in part be due to tribunal members specialising in certain types of issues within Iranian claims.

Other factors also affect an applicant’s chance of success. The odds of an applicant succeeding were 4.4 times higher if they had legal representation (95% CI [3.85, 5.10]), controlling for all other variables (including the country of origin of the applicant, the individual decision-maker, their gender and date of appointment, and the political party that appointed the decision-maker).

An applicant's odds of success were 44 per cent higher when they appear before AAT members first appointed by a Labor government, compared to Liberal-National Coalition-appointed members (95% CI [1.22, 1.71]), controlling for all other variables (including the country of origin of the applicant, whether they had legal representation, the individual decision-maker, their gender and date of appointment)