Thursday, 15 June 2023
Public Interest Disclosure Amendment (Review) Bill 2022; In Committee
The opposition will also not be supporting the amendments. The amendments would massively expand the types of disclosures covered by the PID Act. In addition to the current criteria, any disclosure that is otherwise reasonable and in the public interest, having regard to all the circumstances, would be covered by the external disclosure and emergency disclosure definitions of the PID Act.
The potential impact on our national security arrangements and far-reaching unintended consequences would be staggering. These amendments could potentially permit disclosures and trigger whistleblower protections relating to intelligence information. They would not require any attempted internal disclosure as a first port of call, contrary to the scheme of the PID Act as a whole, and they may be operationally unworkable. For instance, who would decide whether a disclosure is reasonable and in the public interest? In practice, how would that decision be made when a person is considering whether to make a disclosure, and what would be the consequences if the whistleblower acts in good faith but is later wrong? The changes would permit disclosure to union representatives, who are not the subject of the same fiduciary obligations as lawyers and some of whom treat law-breaking as a cost of doing business. These changes, we believe, are dangerous to our system of national security, and they have not been recommended by the PJCIS, the Moss review or any serious body in this space.