The Australian Senate are holding an inquiry into whistleblower protections in the corporate, public and not-for-profit sectors. The inquiry is due to publish a report on the 30th June 2017. I know a lot of the regular readers of this website have been whistleblowers in the past, some are still driving issues and others will become whistleblowers in the future.
Unfortunately public submissions closed on the 10/2/17 but there is still plenty of time to write to the federal Senators and MPs.
The inquiry is very important for Australia so we are able to meet corruption head on in the future. But if the inquiry fails to deliver don’t become disillusioned because whistleblowers can’t be stopped and are becoming more empowered by the day as they join together and find support on social media.
As mainstream media continues to decline whistleblowing websites and other social media sites will continue to grow as people want to know the truth.
Whistleblowers don’t go away anymore
There was a time when swift legal action would close down many whistleblowers but not anymore. The likes of Simon Mulvany and Amber Harrison continue to power along and then there are people like Jeff Morris who exposed widespread corruption at the Commonwealth Bank. Mr Morris is in the media at least every couple of months and a lot more when the various bank inquiries have been in progress.
People like Mr Morris would have to be a huge fear for corporations and his whistleblowing will be felt for years to come and I suspect until there is at least a Royal Commission into the banking industry. Mr Morris has set up his own website: jeffmorris.com.au
The list of people who are on Twitter and Facebook etc exposing corruption is a mile long and almost every day in the mainstream media they are referencing social media whistleblowers. Two examples are: Firstly, Jeff Morris in a story in the SMH on Saturday (1/4/17) regarding the Senate whistleblowing inquiry:
“The culture of “don’t dob in a mate” strikes at the heart of our poor treatment of whistleblowers. From an early age we are told to keep quiet and avoid the stigma of being a snitch or a troublemaker.”
“But the fundamental question that needs to be asked in the joint parliamentary inquiry into whistleblowers is: why should whistleblowers be protected?” (Click here to read more)
And secondly, the Daily Mail published a story using Amber Harrison Tweets on the 30/3/17. Ms Harrison is currently being silenced by a wide-ranging suppression order taken out by the Kerry Stokes controlled Seven West Media. Seven leaked a document to the Australian Financial Review in an attempt to discredit Amber Harrison who ran a story on the 27/3/17. Ms Harrison responded:
The suppression order has only highlighted the methods used by corrupt business people and companies to hide their criminal activities. (Click here to read more)
Government needs to change the laws – Maybe set up a Whistleblower protection department?
The federal government needs to improve the laws protecting whistleblowers but that is pointless unless the courts enforce the laws. Another option would be to set up a small government department that specializes in protecting whistleblowers. Even if it only had 2 or 3 staff it would be a good start.
There is a non-profit organisation in Australia called Whistleblowers Australia and it says on its website:
The goal of Whistleblowers Australia (WBA) is to help promote a society in which it is possible to speak out without reprisal about corruption, dangers to the public and other vital social issues, and to help those who speak out in this way to help themselves.
WBA uses two main approaches to achieve this goal. The first is to encourage self-help and mutual help among whistleblowers and the second is to support campaigns on specific issues.
WBA supports initiatives and ongoing efforts to create a climate where people can speak out without reprisal. Campaigns have included:
Free speech for employees. Repressive legislation and bureaucracies inhibit many workers from making disclosures. This legislation needs to be repealed. The right of private sector employees to speak out on issues of social importance also needs to be promoted.
Reform of defamation law. Australia’s defamation laws are mainly helpful to the rich and powerful and frequently operate to prevent exposure of corrupt behaviour. The laws need to be reformed to allow public interest disclosures and to eliminate high legal costs and payouts.
Whistleblower legislation. Whistleblowers can be protected by laws against reprisals. One problem with Australian whistleblower laws is that employers are almost never prosecuted for taking reprisals against whistleblowers. (Click here to read more)
Closing down whistleblowers with legal action
Almost all recent legal attempts to close down whistleblowers have backfired as they only raised the public awareness of the abuse of the law by corporations and the government.
Julian Assange and Edward Snowden have helped put whistleblowing on the international stage which in the long-term will help benefit everyone. Even with all the legal power that has been thrown at both of them they continue to thrive and expose corruption. In the chase for Assange the governments of England, Sweden and the US would have spent 10’s of millions of dollars on lawyers yet have failed badly. Many people believe that Assange even managed to have an influence on the outcome on the US Presidential election with the leaks on the WikiLeaks website so they have hardly silenced him.
You don’t have to be international whistleblowers like Assange and Snowden to make the world a better place. Just doing your bit where you live or supporting whistleblowers helps a great deal. You still have a few months to send a quick email to your federal Senator or MP to lobby for better protection of Australian whistleblowers.
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