Whistleblower public servants deserve protection

State Liberals are calling on the Weatherill Government to end its opposition to Liberal amendments to strengthen whistleblower protection laws when the legislation returns to the House of Assembly this week.

“Whistleblowers have a critical role in exposing official corruption and they must be protected from retribution,” said Shadow Attorney-General Vickie Chapman.

“The Weatherill Government has put its political interest before the public interest in opposing this important check on corruption, waste and maladministration.”

The Bill, with key Liberal amendments to allow whistleblowers to go public, has passed the Legislative Council with support from the Greens, Family First and the Nick Xenophon Team.

Only the Labor Party is opposed to this vital accountability measure.

Originally introduced by Shadow Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman, under the name the Whistleblowers Protection Amendment Bill 2016, the Bill protects whistleblowers and facilitates the disclosure of maladministration and waste in the public sector, corruption and illegal conduct.

“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,” said Ms Chapman.

“This Bill makes it an offence to interfere with someone’s right to speak out."

“Journalists must be able to guarantee their sources anonymity."

“The Weatherill Government failed to fully implement the Lander recommendations in the process denying public servants the right to go to journalists."

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

In the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Annual Report 2015, Commissioner Lander detailed a survey of 7000 public servants revealing 1 in 4 were reluctant to report corruption, misconduct or maladministration and the most common concern being the personal and professional repercussions.

Commissioner Lander recommended that the legislation enable public servants to disclose information to journalists if there has been a failure to investigate the information.