Wednesday, 10 May 2023
Public Interest Disclosure Amendment (Review) Bill 2022; In Committee
I understand from your earlier answer, Minister, that there will be some guidance given. Is it intended that the Ombudsman's office will draft that guidance for the authorised officers, or is it intended that that will come from the Attorney-General's Department? Again, I come back to the point that all of the concerns raised by the Ombudsman's office now seems to be highlighted by these amendments. I'm not speaking against adopting the amendments—the amendments make it better. They actually narrow the carve-out and allow for mixed matters to still be considered as a PID complaint, and that's a step forward. But the way in which this is drafted highlights the resource concerns within the department from the authorised officer and the process the authorised officer would have to go through, and then the resource concerns that will almost inevitably flow to the Ombudsman in seeking a review of those decisions. Obviously, whether a matter is accepted as a PID or not fundamentally changes the protections that are offered to a public servant or somebody working in an agency. If their complaint is accepted as a PID they have a whole lot of protections. If it is not accepted as a PID then the response that can be taken against them is pretty much at large. So, who is going to be drafting the guidelines, and what, if any, assurances can you give that the Ombudsman's evidence won't come true?