10 February 2023

Haines continues calls for a Whistleblower Commission in submission to Senate Inquiry

Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has continued her call for the Government to legislate an independent whistleblower protection commission.

In a submission made to the Senate Inquiry into the Public Interest Disclosure Amendment (Review) Bill 2022 (PID Review Bill), Dr Haines said whistleblower laws were complex, and a commission is critical to support whistleblowers who are navigating the legal system.

“Where once Australia’s whistleblower protection laws set the international standard, they have since become limited, out of date and inconsistent,” Dr Haines said.

“The introduction of this Bill by the Government is a positive step, following the establishment of the NACC. But there is still so much more to do.”

“The PID Review Bill helps strengthen whistleblower protections, including by providing officers with discretion to refer matters to the NACC and expanding the definition of ‘detriment’ so that remedies will be available for the full impact of whistleblowing, such as reputational damage.”

“However, these initial reforms are nowhere near sufficient on their own,” Dr Haines said.

“A number of reforms are still necessary, such as forming a whistleblower protection commission, to ensure whistleblower protection laws offer best practice protections that are at the highest international standard.”

An independent whistleblower protection commission was a key pillar of Dr Haines’ 2020 Australian Federal Integrity Commission Bill and was supported by the Advisory Report for the Joint Select Committee examining the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) Bill.

Other key reforms are set out in the Protecting Australia’s Whistleblowers: The Federal Roadmap, which was co-launched on 23 November 2022 by Dr Haines, Griffith University’s Centre for Governance and Public Policy, the Human Rights Law Centre and Transparency International Australia.

A copy of the Roadmap is available here. Dr Haines’ full submission to the Senate Inquiry is available here.

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