Plan to overhaul whistleblower laws

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Australia was once a world leader in whistleblower protection but over two decades has fallen far behind, a new report will reveal on Wednesday.

Independent MP Helen Haines and senator David Pocock will launch “Protecting Australia’s Whistleblowers: The Federal Roadmap”, which will ask the government to reform whistleblower protections.

The report, developed by Griffith University, will set out a 12-step roadmap for better protection.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has proposed new laws to increase protections, but Dr Haines and Senator Pocock say there is a need to go further.

It follows a speech in parliament on Monday from fellow independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who said he had been given thousands of pages of documents by a coal industry whistleblower.

Helen Haines says Australia has fallen behind. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary RamageHelen Haines says Australia has fallen behind. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

Dr Haines said Australia had fallen behind and had the opportunity to once again be at the forefront of best practice.

“What we’re seeing at the moment is when procedures fail for whistleblowers, when bodies or companies turn on a whistleblower, there’s currently no federal agency tasked with an independent investigation for those people,” she told ABC Radio.

“There’s no safe house for them, and there’s no clarity around what they should do.

“(Reform) I think is something we really need.”

Dr Haines attempted to implement reforms through her integrity commission legislation introduced during the Morrison government but said while the Albanese government’s National Anti Corruption Commission Bill included increased protections, there were still holes.

“They need remedying and they need remedying very quickly,” she said.

The report being released on Wednesday will outline a need for an independent whistleblower protection authority.

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