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15 Nov 2016

Commissioner’s plea to protect whistleblowers | The Advertiser

Sheradyn Holderhead

WHISTLEBLOWERS should be able to turn to the media to reveal corruption or malpractice to ensure issues are uncovered, the state’s anticorruption watchdog says. Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander has told a parliamentary committee he believed that, under certain circumstances, the law should protect people who approached journalists. “The reason I made the recommendation was that I thought there had to be someone who was prepared to make this public when nobody else will,” he said.

The State Government, however, remains resolute in its dismissal of Mr Lander’s recommendation. The Opposition will again try to amend proposed new laws for whistleblowers which will be debated in State Parliament’s Upper House this week. The Liberals want to allow disclosure to a journalist if the person had already made the disclosure to the appropriate authority and was either not told it would be assessed within 30 days, or did not receive notification of an outcome within 120 days.

Mr Lander said he disagreed with Attorney-General John Rau on the issue. “He (Mr Rau) says, ‘You would never need the media because Members of Parliament from both sides will bring this to the attention of Parliament’. But I’m not so sure about that,” Mr Lander said. Opposition MLC Andrew McLachlan said: “If we fail to provide for disclosure to the media, we are not only going against the wisdom of the Commissioner, we are sending a signal to the community that we favour secrecy to transparency – darkness over light.”

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