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Re-scheduling a hearing

Hi all,

I have recently appealed an SSAT decision in the FMC, won, with a new hearing now being being set to review the case again.

The SSAT has set a hearing date, right in the middle of my planned holidays with my children. If I continue with my holiday plan, I will not have mobile phone coverage and therefore the hearing would likley proceed un-defended. Alternatively, I can cancel the holidays.

I have requested the hearing to be re-scheduled for two weeks later based on the grounds mentioned above. The Director has refused, instead offering me a tele-conference at capital city nearest to where I my holidaying. Nothwithstanding, this offer would still cause significnt travel time, expense and inconvenience for my children and myself.

Can anyone suggest how I approach this situation? Afterall, the SSAT advertises itself to be less formal than a court, yet even an Federal Magistrate will inquire if a proposed date for a court hearing is suitable for me.

A person who can't pay gets another person who can't pay to guarantee that he can pay. Like a person with two wooden legs getting another person with two wooden legs to guarantee that he has got two natural legs. It don't make either of them able to do a walking-match. Charles Dickens
I can't actually see anything on the SSAT site that either allows or disallows such a decision, other than the director appears to have carte-blanche, however the Social Security Act Section 141 says this :-


Social Security Act - Section 141 said
SSAT objective

                   In carrying out its functions under this Act, the SSAT must pursue the objective of providing a mechanism of review that is fair, just, economical, informal and quick.

In section 159 it says :-
Social Security Act Section 159 said
SOCIAL SECURITY (ADMINISTRATION) ACT 1999 - SECT 159
Arrangements for hearing of application

             (1)  If an application is made to the SSAT for review of a decision, the Executive Director must fix a day, time and place for the hearing of the application.

             (2)  If a declaration under section 145 is in force in relation to a decision, the Executive Director must take reasonable steps to ensure that the decision is reviewed as quickly as possible.

             (3)  The Executive Director must give the applicant and any other parties to the review written notice of the day, time and place fixed for the hearing of the application.

             (4)  The notice under subsection (3) must be given a reasonable time before the day fixed for the hearing.

In theory you could argue that the mechanism is not fair nor economical nor is it reasonable to have the children to miss out on time with their parent.

Furthermore I do not believe that section 170, in regards to adjournments has been fully considered at by the director, in regards that the reason for adjournment is not inconsistent with section 141.

Section 170 says :-

Social Security Act Section 170 said
SOCIAL SECURITY (ADMINISTRATION) ACT 1999 - SECT 170
Adjournment of SSAT hearings

             (1)  The SSAT may adjourn the hearing of a review of a decision from time to time.

             (2)  Without limiting subsection (1), the SSAT may refuse to adjourn the hearing of a review if:

                     (a)  the hearing has already been adjourned on 2 or more occasions; or

                     (b)  the SSAT is satisfied that to grant an adjournment would be inconsistent with the pursuit of the objective laid down by section 141; or

                     ©  a declaration under section 131 or 145 is in force in relation to the decision under review.

However I strongly suspect that saying the above will make no difference. Perhaps you should make a complaint via the complaints process and also to the minister and perhaps your local federal MP.
Thanks Mike, I considered my options yesterday and came to the same conculsion as yourself, and that is to go ministerial. I learnt my lesson a while ago about the social justice system, and that is the letter of the law is the first casualty of the journey, whilst the spirit of the law, particularily the best interests of the children, rarely starts the journey. And so I have learned my lessons, adapted, and am now wiser about the playing field upon which I step. Thanks again, and good luck with your passions. PaulG

A person who can't pay gets another person who can't pay to guarantee that he can pay. Like a person with two wooden legs getting another person with two wooden legs to guarantee that he has got two natural legs. It don't make either of them able to do a walking-match. Charles Dickens
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