Thursday, 14 May 2015
Australian Border Force Bill 2015, Customs and Other Legislation Amendment (Australian Border Force) Bill 2015; In Committee
I foreshadowed in my speech in the second reading debate that I had circulated an amendment to deal with this very important issue of protecting whistleblowers, particularly those working in the Public Service. We know that a big part of this government's agenda is to shut down information, cover things up and not let anyone know what is really going on. The secrecy entrenched in these bills means that legitimate whistleblowing will essentially be criminalised. The point is that we need whistleblowing more than ever at the moment. If it were not for whistleblowers, we would not know the children have been abused in detention centres. We would not know the terrible conditions inside the Nauru detention camp. We would never have had the Moss review into the detention centre in Nauru—let alone a raft of other elements of human rights abuses that are going on under the guise of the current immigration minister, the former immigration minister and probably the ministers before them. If it were not for whistleblowers, we would not know about the things that have been going on. These are public servants who are trying to do their jobs, and they deserve to have protections under legislation that ensures that, when they do speak out, they have at least a check of the public interest on their side—and that is what this is about.
Simply criminalising people for whistleblowing is the kind of thing a government that wants to shut down all dissent would do. You have to wonder why this government is so obsessed with secrecy, with keeping the public in the dark and even with keeping the parliament in the dark. It is time we started shining the light in the dark places in our detention centres.