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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Whistleblowing not for the faint-hearted.

One of the developments that influenced the decision to establish a Royal Commission into child abuse was the decision by Inspector Peter Fox of NSW Police to speak up and out  last week about a cover-up in the Hunter Valley of NSW. Dr Suelette Dreyfus of the University of Melbourne writing on Global Mail picked up on his remark that this decision marked the end of his police career- culture in the police force is such that someone like him would never be let back into the fold. Dr Dreyfus lists the five phases of whistleblowing, all familiar and distressing reminders of what happens to those who like Fox take a stand on what happens within, and comments about the failure of the Commonwealth government to enact comprehensive whistleblower protection legislation. NSW has had legislation that covers public servants including NSW police officers since 1994. Global Mail has published my comment that the fact Inspector Fox, in talking to a journalist about a cover up or derailed investigation, exhibited no confidence in the protections comes as no surprise. But it is a sad reflection on the state of the law, attitudes tolerated in the police service, and the way the law is implemented.

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