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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rear guard rumbles over whistleblower protection

Rob Oakeshott sounded the alarm in Parliament late last night that the mix of years of enthusiasm and prevarication may come to nought unless the whistleblower protection bill progresses in these last two weeks of sittings. 

Will he be heard? (Update-yes at least in the House.)
I rise tonight to talk about the Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2013 and trying to progress it over these final two weeks as a matter of priority and urgency. I am increasingly worried that we may not get there, for all the wrong reasons, such as senior executives within government potentially worrying that this is somehow an attack on them, is somehow going to encourage employees in the APS to run some sort of public sector revolution by leaking every single issue that they deal with, and in some way will lead to poorer government. On the contrary, the reason I rise tonight is to say that nothing could be further from the truth and to try and put in place some reminders about the first principles of the importance of whistleblowing reform for best practice within the public sector....
Oakeshott reiterated-if anyone was still wondering-the case for whistleblower protection, noting in addition, revelations in the US about PRISM:
That is of great concern and for that reason, as well as all the reasons of best standards within the public sector, we should not put ourselves in the position of just trusting government. We should invest in people as part of being government and by investing in people, through mechanisms like whistleblowing, we are doing the best that we can to minimise corruption and build a culture of a governance standard that taxpayers and Australian citizens quite rightly expect. My call tonight is to urge government to progress the public interest disclosure legislation. Do not let it lapse. This does matter. It is good practice. It sits well alongside existing reforms and it is a good opportunity to progress a long-lasting reform that really does matter.

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