Parliament Passes Landmark Reforms for Whistleblowers

19 February 2019

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick has welcomed the passing of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2018 which brings in a set of strong and comprehensive safeguards for whistleblowers in the corporate sector.

"Whistleblowers are crucial in deterring and, if necessary, uncovering wrongdoings by big corporations such as those revealed by the Banking Royal Commission," said Rex.

"These historic and world leading whistleblower protections will empower employees to call out unethical behaviour in their workplaces without fear of repercussions."

"They are the result of years of effort by former Senator Nick Xenophon and continued efforts by Centre Alliance," Rex said.

"The final piece of legislation that passed the House of Representatives today was the result of productive engagement between Centre Alliance and the Government over the past year."

One major breakthrough of this legislation is that if employees follow these new rules when they blow the whistle and nothing happens in 90 days, it is now much simpler for them to go public, including to journalists or members of Parliament, and they can even remain anonymous.

Public and large proprietary companies are now also obligated to have a whistleblower policy that explains how they will support and protect any workers that speak up. 

The legislation will also mean that any detrimental acts or omissions towards a whistleblower can now result in an employer’s liability for compensation. Previously, only deliberate and direct criminal victimisation of whistleblowers could be punished, something that is near impossible to prove.

Centre Alliance would like to extend our thanks to Minister Kelly O'Dwyer, Professor AJ Brown and to all past whistleblowers who heroically exposed wrongdoings, often at the detriment to their careers without the protections in the legislation that passed the Senate today.

There is a need to continue whistleblower protection reform so that the new high bar set by these laws can be extended across the public and not-for-profit sectors. Centre Alliance eagerly awaits the Government's response to the Parliament's Whistleblower Protections report handed down in September 2017.

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