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Protecting Whistleblowers

Australia is developing strengthened whistleblower protections designed to protect those who disclose information on tax misconduct to the Australian Taxation Office. Whistleblowers will have their identity protected and will be protected from victimisation and civil and criminal action to encourage them to come forward and help support compliance with Australia’s tax laws.

Country: Australia

Status: ongoing

Themes: Whistleblower/civil society space protection

Last updated: December 2020


Concrete: Somewhat Concrete | New: Somewhat New | Ambitious: Somewhat Ambitious

  • 6 Evidence:

    Treasury Laws Amendment( Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017

    New Whistleblower Protection Bill

    The most recent public statement of the commitment by the current Government on review and reform of the Public Interest Disclosure Act was given by Attorney General, the Hon Christian Porter MP in November 2019:

    Blog from AJ Brown - Whistleblowing reforms in Australia show the way

    Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013

    The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 – what’s it all about?

  • 8 Notes:

    The intention to strengthen measures to protect whistleblowers in the Public Sector continues to be on hold – a continuing impact of the Pandemic in the capacity of the Australian Government and the Minister responsible to take steps to introduce the required legislation. Before the pandemic, the Government was considering reviewing its response to the 2016 independent report into the public sector whistleblowing scheme in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act). The Government is also considering broader reforms to the PID Act beyond the recommendations in the 2016 independent report. These reforms are intended to ensure that the public sector whistleblowing scheme encourages, supports and protects whistleblowers.

    Updated: October 31, 2020

    In Australia, whistleblowers are protected by two separate pieces of legislation: 1. The Corporations Act 2001, which protects and supports whistleblowers in the corporate sector as well as some not-for-profit incorporated organisations that meet the definition of a trading or financial corporation. In July 2019, the whistleblower protections in the Corporations Act was expanded to provide greater protection for whistleblowers. This is a welcome development and provides some ‘global first’ requirements and protections for corporate sector whistleblowers, but there is still more work to be done to ensure good enough whistlesblowers protection. 2. Protection for public sector whistleblowers in Australia comes under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013. Public sector whistleblower protections are lagging behind in Australia, with law reform overdue both in the federal parliament, and in many state parliaments. Overall, whilst there has been progress in corporate sector whistleblower protection, if the public sector whistleblower protection does follow suit, the whistleblower regime in its entirety will be undermined and we will continue to have a weakening effect on all reporting of wrongdoing.

    Updated: April 30, 2020

    1 July 2019, a new whistleblower protection regime covering the corporate, financial and tax sectors was implemented in Australia. The Treasury Laws Amendment ‘Enhancing Whistleblower Protections Act 2019’, made important changes to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth), Banking Act 1959 (Cth) and Insurance Act 1973 (Cth). Despite welcoming stronger private sector whistleblower requirements as a major step, efforts still need to be made to bring the public sector legislation to the higher standard now enjoyed by the private sector.

    Updated: October 30, 2019

    New Whistleblower Protection Bill passed both houses on 19 February 2019. TI Australia welcomes this legislation (see further analysis by AJ Brown through the 2nd evidence link) but calls for further steps to be taken: The legislation only covers the private sector, so revisions to strengthen the public sector whistleblowers are needed. In addition, Australia needs a dedicated Whistleblower Protection Authority.

    Updated: May 30, 2019

    The reforms in the Whistleblower Protections Bill include: legal protections that apply before a whistleblower starts to experience reprisals, provisions that mean a company can now be held liable if it fails to prevent detrimental act, new rules for whistleblowing outside the company and an extended scope of who is protected. However, as the chapter points out the legislation only covers the private sector

    Peer reviewer: 1

    Updated: May 30, 2019

    Awaiting Ministerial decision

    Updated: October 30, 2018

    A first stage of legislation (covering all corporate misconduct, not just tax matters) introduced to Parliament in December 2017 but not yet passed, due to it not being up to standard against a very strong parliamentary committee report tabled September 2017

    Updated: June 30, 2018

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