It is historic legislation, improving on recent reforms in Queensland and NSW, and providing the country's clearest regime for ensuring public agencies listen to their people, take action to protect them, and ''ensure just outcomes … including by preventing and remedying the effect of detrimental action''. It also extends the circumstances where, if systems are not in place to deal with wrongdoing raised via official channels, insiders can go to the media. So far, in NSW and Queensland, the newer legislation covers whistleblowers who go to the media as a last resort. This, too, is included in the ACT bill, with some helpful new safeguards and thresholds to guide whistleblowers and agencies on when this is acceptable. But as well, the ACT act is the first to make explicit what many Australians expect - that when it comes to serious public interest matters, if there is really no safe official channel available, we would prefer that a whistleblower go public than stay silent. The act provides that if a public servant can't reasonably use any official channels without ''significant risk'' of reprisal, they will still be protected if they go straight to the media.
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Friday, August 24, 2012
ACT whistleblower protections, new best practice standard
The ACT Assembly passed the Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2012 yesterday, to acclaim from the leading expert on such things, Professor A.J. Brown of Griffith University, writing in The Canberra Times: