Wednesday, 10 May 2023
Public Interest Disclosure Amendment (Review) Bill 2022; In Committee
The Greens, too, will support these amendments, but we have some questions we'll be asking of the minister about the intent behind the amendments and how they'll actually operate in practice. I acknowledge that the Attorney-General and his department have engaged with the issue and the submissions that came into the inquiry that made it very clear that pretty much no key stakeholder was satisfied that the bill, as initially drafted, actually implemented recommendation 5 of the Moss review and that the carve-out was likely to create significant concerns. One of the concerns that was raised in the committee that hasn't been addressed by the government—and I might put my first question to the minister in this regard—is that the Ombudsman's office made it very clear that having these multiple tests in 29(2A) and 43(4), where disclosure tends to show or may tend to show disclosable conduct, was likely to be contested by whistleblowers, particularly if there was an adverse conclusion from the decision-maker. It was likely to be tested by whistleblowers and then referred to the Ombudsman, seeking the Ombudsman's review of those decisions. Now we have two separate points where that decision could be made. My first question to the minister is: has the department engaged with the Ombudsman's office to try and address the concerns that the Ombudsman's office raised in the inquiry on these points?