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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Canadian turtles saved, public servant axed but rewarded

We aren't the only ones with unsatisfactory whistleblower protection legislation, but here's a good news story (sort of) from Vancouver Canada.

The Freedom of Information and Privacy Association and the Campaign for Open Government has given its 2007 Whistleblower Award to Gord McAdams, a former employee of the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, who on his last day before retirement after 34 years service, lodged documents in a court proceeding that exposed his then minister as having made an unauthorised exercise of statutory power. It turned the case against the government and
needless to say he was fired on the spot. He eventually reached an out of court settlement which appears to have saved his super.

He also saved a population of painted turtles that would have been wiped out if the minister's approved plan had gone ahead.

In Australia, Federal public servants commit a criminal offence if any fact or document acquired in the course of duty is disclosed without authorisation (Section 70(1) Crimes Act 1914). Allan Kessing, a former officer of the Australian Customs Service, in March 2007, was convicted of an offence for disclosing the contents of documents containing threat assessments and risk analyses of airport security in 2003. Kessing was sentenced to 9 months jail, suspended on entering a good behaviour bond, claims he did not disclose the documents, and intends to appeal.

The recent Independent Audit of Free Speech in Australia identified 335 pieces of legislation which contain secrecy provisions that prevent disclosure of government information. Go figure.

Federal Labor is committed to reform so here's hoping.......

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