House debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Questions without Notice


2:13 pm

Sophie Scamps (Mackellar, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is for the Attorney-General. The persecution and prosecution of whistleblowers in recent years is a national shame. Today Griffith University, the Human Rights Law Centre and Transparency International Australia have released a report outlining 12 key steps that Australia must take to strengthen whistleblower protections. Will the government commit to implementing the report's recommendations in this term of parliament, in particular the establishment of the whistleblower protection authority?

Photo of Mark DreyfusMark Dreyfus (Isaacs, Australian Labor Party, Cabinet Secretary) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Mackellar for her question. I've received a copy of the joint report on whistleblowers by Griffith University, the Human Rights Law Centre and Transparency International Australia. I know of the member's longstanding interest in this area. The report sets out a number of areas of whistleblower reform. It'll be considered by the government, along with other reviews and reports on this important topic. I've previously indicated, pretty clearly, that the Albanese government is going to deliver long overdue reforms to the Public Interest Disclosure Act to ensure that Australia has best-practice whistleblowing protection for the public sector.

Next week I will be introducing a bill to the parliament which will implement the key recommendations, and this is long overdue, of the 2016 review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act that was carried out by an eminent Australian public servant, Mr Philip Moss AM. It will also be implementing some parliamentary committee reports which have looked at the operation of the Public Interest Disclosure Act since we brought it to the parliament when we were last in government in 2013.

The bill that I am introducing next week will deliver some immediate improvements to the public sector whistleblowing scheme. It will be in place before the National Anti-Corruption Commission commences, as we hope, in mid-2023. This bill will represent the first stage of a significant package or public sector whistleblowing reform.

Following the passage of that bill, this first bill, the government will commence a second stage of further and broader reforms to the Public Interest Disclosure Act, which will include an exposure draft process, a discussion paper on whether there is a need to establish a whistleblower protection authority or, as some of your crossbench colleagues have suggested, a whistleblower protection commissioner. The bill that is going to be introduced next week and the Albanese government's border reform package reinforces our strong commitment to restoring integrity in government and the rule of law.