The ACT government has appealed against a finding that its policy of preferring Australian-trained medical interns racially discriminated against an experienced Chinese neurologist.
Qinglin Wang came to Australia in 2001 with 17 years professional experience and a master's degree in neurology.
He was a former director of the neurology department at the Tianjin Medical University in China's north-east.
Despite his experience, he struggled to get an internship at the Canberra Hospital, which rejected his application in 2013.
He launched legal proceedings in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, alleging he was "treated unfavourably due to his age and race". Mr Wang is aged in his 50s.
Applicants for the Canberra Hospital internship were ranked by the location and quality of their university in 2013.
Australian National University students were given first preference, then Australian graduates, and then graduates of overseas-based institutions.
That policy approach is common across Australia, and states and territories all give locally-trained interns priority for jobs.
The tribunal heard evidence that is because Australian graduates are specifically-trained for the Australian medical system, and because it is considered the "best return on investment" by federal and state governments, which fund medical education and internships.
But the neurologist argued he was discriminated against by the hospital through the downgrading of his application status.
Tribunal senior member Allan Anforth delivered an interim decision in January, finding there had been direct discrimination because of Mr Wang's race.
"The situation facing the applicant is one in which, no matter how excellent his qualities and qualifications, [he] cannot be selected for an internship until the least meritorious domestic graduate has been offered the position," Mr Anforth said.
"The applicant is condemned to suffer this fate for no other reason than that he was born and educated in his home country of China."
Mr Anforth criticised the government for signing off on the policy.
"The legislature has ordained that such forms of discrimination are not to be tolerated in our society," he said.
"It is not open to a minister acting in an executive capacity, or to any public administrator to sidestep that law because they perceive parochial economic advantages in doing so."
Mr Anforth also found there had been indirect discrimination against Mr Wang, but there was still evidence to be heard on whether it was "reasonable" in the circumstances.
Despite the final decision not being made, the ACT government has launched an appeal.
It has alleged Mr Anforth's interim decision was marred by a series of errors with the facts of the case and the law.
The appeal came before President Bill Stefaniak on Friday.
Mr Stefaniak questioned why the appeal was before him when Mr Anforth's final decision had not been handed down.
He said legal precedents meant he could not hear the appeal until that final decision was made, unless he had the consent of both parties.
Barrister Marcus Hassall, representing Mr Wang, said the "pre-emptive" appeal appeared designed to stop a process that was favouring his client.
"We say that it's unfair to Mr Wang, having got half a decision in his favour, for the process to be cut off before he gets final orders," he said.
Mr Stefaniak put the appeal on hold, pending the final decision of Mr Anforth.
"It's far tidier just to see how it all pans out," he said.
That's despite Mr Anforth noting in his interim decision that he would await the parties' decision on whether they would "exercise such appeal rights in respect of this interim decision as they possess".
The case will now go back before Mr Anforth for a directions hearing.