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Parliament greenlights whistleblower law

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Reporter 4 minute read

A bill designed to enshrine whistleblower protections for the reporting of misconduct in the corporate, financial and credit sectors has passed both houses of Parliament. 

The Commonwealth government has announced that Federal Parliament has approved the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2018.

According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the bill, designed to establish a whistleblower protection regime for the reporting of misconduct in the corporate, finance and credit sectors, would:

  • broaden the definition of whistleblowers to include a company’s former employees, officers and contractors, and certain family members;
  • broaden the types of wrongdoing that whistleblowers can make disclosures about that will attract the protections;
  • clarify who in companies can receive whistleblower disclosures;
  • apply the protections to anonymous disclosures;
  • provide better protections for whistleblowers against detriment, and better access to compensation;
  • expand the orders that may be made by a court in favour of a person who has suffered loss, damage or injury as a result of detrimental conduct;
  • increase penalties for individuals and corporations if a whistleblower’s identity is revealed without consent;
  • provide avenues for making emergency or public interest disclosures, under certain limited circumstances; and
  • require public and large proprietary companies to have an internal whistleblower policy that is made available to their officers and employees, with penalties applying for non-compliance.

Our package of reforms will help to put an end to the significant personal and financial loss that can result from blowing the whistle on misconduct by increasing protections, remedies and sanctions for whistleblowers,” Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert said.

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“These reforms are advanced by international standards.”

Mr Robert noted that the regime expands the types of disclosures that can be protected and ensures disclosures can be made to parliamentarians or the media where certain preconditions are satisfied.

“Large companies will be required to have a whistleblower policy to support good corporate governance and culture, which the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry stated is fundamentally important,” Mr Robert added.

“These reforms have benefited from the advice of the government’s expert advisory panel in developing the legal framework.”

He concluded: “This legislation will help to ensure public trust and confidence in the integrity of the corporate sector and financial system.”

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Parliament greenlights whistleblower law
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