Wednesday, 10 May 2023
Public Interest Disclosure Amendment (Review) Bill 2022; Second Reading
I thank all senators for their contributions to the debate on this bill, the Public Interest Disclosure Amendment (Review) Bill 2022. This bill amends the PID Act to implement recommendations from the 2016 review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 and other parliamentary inquiries. These amendments will improve protections for disclosers and witnesses, focus the act on integrity wrongdoing and make the act easier to administer.
The government has addressed recommendations 1 and 2 of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee's report in the explanatory memorandum and welcomes its third recommendation that the bill be passed. The government has also moved amendments to make clear that the exclusion of personal work related conduct would not prevent the allocation or investigation of a disclosure which contains both disclosable conduct and personal work related conduct and also moved amendments to require an authorised officer to inform a discloser about other avenues to progress their disclosure where there is no reasonable basis on which it could be considered an internal disclosure.
The government is aware of calls for a whistleblower protection authority or commission, and I know those calls have been repeated in the second reading debate, and also for external disclosure processes to be examined. The government has already publicly committed to examining these issues as part of a public consultation process on broader reforms to the Public Interest Disclosure Act following passage of this bill.
The Albanese government is committed to restoring trust and integrity to government, and an effective public sector whistleblowing framework is essential to achieving this. The bill is an important first stage of a process to comprehensively reform the Public Interest Disclosure Act to restore it to a best-practice whistleblowing framework. I commend the bill to the Senate.