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Small step for whistleblowers but one giant leap needed



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Small step for whistleblowers but one giant leap needed

NXT Senator Rex Patrick has called on the Federal Government to amend corporate whistleblower protection legislation passing

through the Senate to remove any doubt as to a corporation's responsibility to protect whistleblowers.

"Perfect can be the enemy of the good, but this legislation isn't even good (yet). These proposed laws have a long way to go

before they are sufficiently workable for companies that will be subject to them in order to properly protect whistleblowers,"

said Rex.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017 was subject to a Senate inquiry by the

Economics Committee which tabled their report today recommending that the legislation be passed.

In November 2016, Nick Xenophon and Senator Hinch secured an undertaking from the Federal Government to conduct a

parliamentary inquiry to examine the implementation of whistleblower protections in the corporate and public sectors. In 2017,

a Parliamentary Joint Committee initiated this inquiry and heard evidence that the current laws in Australia are inconsistent,

have little practical effect and made it near impossible to protect whistleblowers from retaliatory action, hold to account those

responsible or effectively investigate alleged reprisals.

"This Bill fails both the public and the whistleblower. It is in unnecessary and direct conflict with recommendations of the

unanimous 2017 parliamentary inquiry as well as the Government's commitment to Nick in 2016," said Rex.

Senator Patrick's dissenting report to the Committee outlines a number of amendments to the current legislation that are

required including allowing external disclosures that meet the 'Jeff Morris' (CBA whistleblower) or 'James Shelton' (Securency

whistleblower) test and a more robust onus of proof, consistent with international best practice, for compensation and other

remedies.

"In its current form, this legislation will fail whistleblowers like Jeff Morris, who revealed corporate misconduct by the

Commonwealth Bank. These people do what they do with integrity and courage and at great risk to themselves. We should be

doing everything we can to support and encourage these heroes," said Rex.

"The recent intelligent deposit machine scandal at the Commonwealth Bank and new revelations that have been aired in

the Banking Royal Commission show just how critical this legislation is. We have to get it right.

"Without strong and unambiguous laws, which the proposed legislation lacks, we will end up seeing poorly resourced

whistleblowers battling it out in the courts against highly resourced companies over the meaning and intent of the legislation. If

lawyers and judges are needed to sort out the interpretation on every occasion, we haven't done our job properly."

The Committee's report, including Senator Patrick's dissenting comments, can be found here.

For media inquiries contact Chloe Preston on 0419 117 464