Report: Australian whistleblowers more vulnerable

PROTECTIONS for Australian whistleblowers in the private sector are lagging behind key other G20 nations, despite improvements in protection laws for public servants, a major international report has found.

The report, by Griffith University, Transparency International and the University of Melbourne, has called for action at the coming G20 meeting on key shield laws for those who report corruption.

It found that despite a public pledge from the G20 in 2010 to pass adequate whistleblower protections within two years, four years later most G20 countries have not delivered on the promise.

The report has also highlighted a divide in shield laws in Australia, with most protections for public servants highlighted as "very comprehensive", while protections for potential private sector witnesses were labelled "absent" or only "partially comprehensive".

Lead author, Blueprint for Free Speech head of research Simon Wolfe said that without whistleblowers "much wrongdoing would go unnoticed", and endemic corruption could only be revealed by those "in the know".

Co-author, Griffith University Professor AJ Brown said whistleblowers had "saved countless lives and recovered billions of dollars and lost funds worldwide".

"They are a legitimate, valued partner in the fight against crime and corruption," he said.

"Citizen demands for stronger whistleblower rights are arising from all corners of the world. People no longer accept the idea that they should be punished for doing the right thing."

The report comes as corruption and misconduct in public and political circles continues to be raised in New South Wales inquiries, and as the consumer commission moves to expand immunity for those willing to expose cartel conduct.

Guidelines covering the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's "immunity and co-operation policy for cartel conduct" were updated this week.

The changes will expand immunity provisions for people willing to report potential cartel conduct in the private sector, and protect them from retaliation from those being exposed.


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