Cabinet Secretary, Senator Joe Ludwig, today announced Government plans for legislation that will for the first time provide a stand-alone whistleblower protection scheme covering the Australian public sector.
The model proposed by the Government is outlined in its response to the report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Whistleblower protection: a comprehensive scheme for the Commonwealth public sector.
“The Rudd Government is progressing its election commitment to ensure appropriate processes are put in place, and protections offered, for public interest disclosures within Government,” Senator Ludwig said.
“We have carefully considered the recommendations of the Committee. The Government agrees wholly to 10 recommendations, agrees in principle to 11, agrees in part to one and does not agree to four recommendations.”
“The Government’s scheme goes further than the Committee’s recommendation regarding the types of public interest disclosures that may potentially be made to a third party, such as the media.”
“Matters that not only threaten immediate and serious harm to public health and safety, but also matters relating to corruption, maladministration, wastage of public funds and official misconduct, may also potentially be disclosed to third parties.”
“Australia’s federal laws currently offer very few protections for public interest disclosures. The Rudd Government’s response moves to change that.”
“I would like to thank the Committee members and Chair, Mark Dreyfus QC MP, for their important work in this area,” Senator Ludwig said.
“The Government’s response is the next step in meeting our commitment to provide best-practice legislation to strengthen whistleblower protections in the Australian public sector.”
“We will develop legislation to facilitate proper reporting of corruption, misconduct or other wrongdoing in the Commonwealth public sector.”
The Government intends to introduce legislation implementing the Government’s response this year.