Monday, 27 October 2008

End 'witchhunts' - Whistleblowers Australia

Whistleblowers Australia is calling for greater protection for people who speak out about wrongdoing in government departments and agencies at a federal parliamentary inquiry in Sydney today.

The House of Representatives Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee will also be hearing from the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Police Integrity Commission and the Australian Press Council.

In Australia, there are no uniform laws to protect public interest disclosures.

One of the more recent cases of whistleblowing centred on Allan Kessing, a public servant who leaked classified reports exposing airport security breaches.

The leak prompted a big inquiry into crime and security at Australia's airports and led to a $200 million overhaul of procedures, but the whistleblower himself was given a nine-month suspended jail sentence for his actions.

The president of Whistleblowers Australia, Peter Bennett, says there should be an independent agency to oversee complaints.

"Whistleblowers being able to stop malpractice, misconduct or public waste would in itself just pay for a whistleblowing commission," he said.

He has praised the Federal Government for initiating the inquiry.

"For the last 12 years there has actually been witchhunts for whistleblowers," he said.

The inquiry has already heard from a number of agencies in Canberra and Melbourne, including the Australian Federal Police and the Commonwealth Ombudsman and will continue in Brisbane tomorrow.


Whistleblowers hung out to dry: report
A national study led by Griffith University says fewer than 2 per cent of public interest whistleblowers get support from their government agency.

Inquiry to address whistleblower protection
A federal parliamentary committee is to hold an inquiry into protection for whistleblowers in the public service.

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