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Thursday, 26 September 2002
Page: 4986

Senator GREIG (12:19 PM) —The Democrats are strongly supportive certainly of the intent of the amendment. As it happens, earlier today in this chamber the report of the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee's inquiry into the Democrats' Public Interest Disclosure Bill was tabled, and my colleague Senator Murray spoke to that. That bill proposes comprehensive whistleblower protection. The fact is, and the committee found, that existing whistleblower protection is inadequate. We Democrats have a long and proud history of advocating better, stronger and more effective whistleblower protection.

I do think that the amendment proposed by Senator Brown could do with some refinement. Common to most whistleblower schemes is the idea that the disclosures must be made to certain authorities or through certain channels. I think that Senator Brown's amendment could benefit from some consideration as to who or what the disclosure is about—national security ought to be made to. Having said that, I am supportive of the intent. I will support Senator Brown in his amendment. Through the chair, I say to the minister that, if what Senator Brown is proposing is redundant or irrelevant, if it does not contribute positively towards the bill—because you believe that what Senator Brown is aiming for is inherently in the bill anyway—then the passage of this amendment is not a negative. It may be redundant but it is not a negative, and therefore I can support it.