State Liberals have attacked the Weatherill Government for delaying the passage of the Public Interest Disclosure Bill in the Legislative Council in the final sitting week of Parliament.
“The Weatherill Government has again stymied legislation that will protect journalists and whistleblowers disclosing corruption, illegal conduct or maladministration,” said Shadow Attorney-General Vickie Chapman.
“The Bill, originally introduced by Shadow Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman, under the name the Whistleblowers Protection Amendment Bill 2016, is critical to ensuring open and accountable government.
“It is now two years since Independent Commissioner against corruption Bruce Lander identified the need for the protection of whistle-blowers.”
Commissioner Landers 2015 Annual Report included a survey of 7000 public servants that revealed 1 in 4 were reluctant to report corruption, misconduct or maladministration due to concerns about repercussions.
“In discussion with the Attorney-General it was determined this Bill needed to proceed in conjunction with the Police Complaints and Discipline Bill, said Ms Chapman.
“That Bill passed yet the Public Interest Disclosure Bill languishes.
“It is critical public servants and others can disclose maladministration and corruption to journalists if no action is being taken elsewhere.
“It is equally critical that journalists are protected when reporting allegations of corruption and maladministration.
“This Bill makes it an offence to interfere with someone’s right to speak out about those matters.
“If journalists are unable to protect the identity of their sources corruption and maladministration are more likely to go undetected.”
The Legislative Council will resume sitting on 14 February 2017, where it will debate the Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2016 among other Bills.