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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

NSW report on whistleblowers not as good as it sounds

On what to make of the NSW Parliamentary Committee Report on whistleblower protection, a few observations from Dr Peter Bowden who I first met about 25 years ago when he was responsible for managing development programs for senior public servants for the Australian Public Service, and I was a humble consultant trying to improve policy development skills for program participants. Bowden is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, NSW Branch President of Whistleblowers Australia and gave evidence to the Committee. He offered these personal comments in an email exchange. Comments from others are welcome.
"I tend to disagree with the report.The report is a commitment to the status quo. It in fact is even a backwards step on the previous recommendations by the same committee ( which were never implemented, incidentally) . The major step has been to take back the recommendation that the Ombudsman's office take charge of the act.Despite the rhetoric of the Committee's Chair, Frank Terenzini , the Committee has not given overall responsibility for managing whistleblowing in NSW to the Ombudsman Office. He has assigned it the responsibility for developing procedures, for training, for reporting on achievements, But if an agency or department still want to cover up their misdeeds, or sideline the complaints of a whistleblower, they can. The whistleblower cannot go to the Ombudsman and have it override the department.The Ombudsman's office will be little more that a glorified clerical office.Despite the fact that the media is the most powerful option open to a whistleblower, the Committee has been particularly weak.It has suggested a further inquiry be held."

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:08 am

    That is an interesting comment,as I also have fears that things are not going to improve even if suggested changes are implimented.
    As a contributor to the Inquiry via the only 2 Submissions deemed confidential and not published on the website, I am staggered at the statistic revealed in the Report that since the inception of the Protected Disclosures in 1994 there has not been one successful proscecution of a person taking detrimental action against a whistleblower.
    So despite all the claims and rhetoric that you can report corruption, maladministration etc,and be safe in the knowledge you are under Government protection, in fact that is simply misleading and false.