Liberals to shield whistleblowers

The State Liberals will move to debate the Whistleblowers Protection Bill in Parliament this Thursday.

"The Weatherill Government’s decision to remove whistleblower protection from its Public Interest Disclosure legislation has opened the door for a separate piece of legislation to ensure whistleblowers are properly protected in South Australia," said Shadow Attorney General Vickie Chapman.

"I put my Bill to protect whistleblowers on hold to allow the Weatherill Government to incorporate important protections in its Public Disclosure Bill.

"The Weatherill Government’s decision to gut its Bill of whistleblower protection leaves me no choice but to progress my legislation.

"Whistleblowers have a critical role in exposing official corruption and they must be protected from retribution."

ICAC Commissioner Bruce Lander has recommended legislative protection to enable public servants to disclose information to journalists if there has been a failure to investigate the information.

An ICAC survey of 7000 public servants revealed 1 in 4 were reluctant to report corruption, misconduct or maladministration with the most common concern being the personal and professional repercussions.

"The Weatherill Government has put its political interest before the public interest in opposing this important check on corruption, waste and maladministration," said Ms Chapman.

"In the South Australian Parliament only the Labor Party is opposed to this vital accountability measure.

"It is vital for individuals to be able to disclose matters of public importance, including maladministration and corruption, to journalists if no action is being taken elsewhere.

"This Bill makes it an offence to interfere with someone’s right to speak out. Journalists must be able to guarantee their sources’ anonymity.

"Without genuine legal protection for both the journalist and their source, corruption, waste and illegal behaviour are less likely to be detected."