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Whistleblower measures need balance

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THE HON GARY GRAY AO MP Special Minister of State Minister for the Public Service and Integrity MEDIA RELEASE

October 29, 2012

Whistleblower measures need balance

A private member’s bill designed to protect public service whistleblowers is well-motivated but falls short of necessary safeguards and balance, Special Minister of State Gary Gray said today.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie today in Parliament presented a private member’s bill to cover Commonwealth employees who make protected disclosures to media.

“Mr Wilkie’s bill purports to improve transparency and good administration but falls short on practical grounds to offer a workable system of whistleblower protection that requires a more prescriptive outline of rights and responsibilities of public servants and whistleblowers,” Mr Gray said.

Mr Gray said the government shared Mr Wilkie’s strong desire to provide effective protections for Commonwealth employees willing to identify instances of maladministration, misconduct and corruption.

“The Government’s public interest disclosure policy seeks to provide a framework to ensure such disclosures are appropriately investigated and necessary action taken.

“In developing this complex framework, the government will build upon the foundations of the February 2009 Report of the Inquiry into Whistleblower Protection within the Australian Public Sector (the Dreyfus report) as well as the government’s detailed response to the report in 2010.

“A key objective of the government’s scheme will be to foster and promote a culture in the Australian public sector which supports calling out wrongdoing, maladministration and protecting those who stand up.

“The bipartisan Dreyfus report found that the existing workplace culture, in additional to the lack of protection currently available, is a major disincentive for people to speak out about suspected wrongdoing.

“The committee said the development of a culture that is more accepting and responsive to people who raise concerns will be an important factor in the success of new public interest disclosure legislation.

“We are committed to finalising our position by the end of this year and will introduce legislation early in the new parliamentary year.”

Media contact: John Arthur 0408 991 261