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Thursday, 29 May 1997
Page: 4052

Senator WOODLEY(7.09 p.m.) —I wish to speak on this Privileges Committee report, and I want to compliment the previous speaker in this debate, Senator Murphy, as I agree with his remarks. He was an excellent chairman of that select committee, and I strongly support his call for national legislation to protect whistleblowers.

As a matter of fact, this is the third time this week I have spoken on the issue of whistleblowers and, again, I want to point out very briefly the problems whistleblowers face. One problem is when a whistleblower makes an initial complaint and it is not dealt with properly, and that is where whistleblowing usually begins to become a very tortuous path.

When the issue is not dealt with properly in the first instance, most whistleblowers—who, I might say, are very persistent people—often discover that, the further they go, the more injustices they face. They often become very much embroiled personally in the whole issue which has led them to becoming a whistleblower.

That was the case in the evidence that was before the Privileges Committee in this instance. There were a couple of cases which had been partially investigated by the CJC in Queensland, by various Queensland bodies and by the Select Committee on Unresolved Whistleblower Cases. Because issues were still outstanding, they finally came to the Privileges Committee and I think the Privileges Committee did a very good job—as they always do. But for the person or people involved, there is still the feeling that they have not really got to the end of the road in terms of the justice they seek.

I do not want to hold up the Senate tonight, so I will not go on and on about this. But one of the people very deeply involved in both whistleblower committees—although not intimately involved in the Privileges Committee—was Dr William De Maria, and I spoke about his case a couple of nights ago.

To save the time of the Senate, rather than go through all of that again, I will simply seek tonight to table a document which sets out Dr De Maria's case, and I have given a copy of that to the whips. The reason I want to table this document is that it will give the Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Senator Vanstone, an opportunity to have before her information that would be very valuable to her as she seeks to understand how universities operate and would be particularly useful in Dr De Maria's case, as he is in contact with her. I seek the leave of the Senate to table that document.

Leave granted.

Question resolved in the affirmative.