PM Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party have backflipped on their election promise for a powerful National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). One of the ways they have done that is by making sure as few whistleblowers come forward as possible which is designed to cover up Labor Party corruption in future years.
That will mean the new Federal NACC will start running low on the amount of corruption they have to investigate once they have dealt with corruption in the past by the coalition government of the last nine years. And possibly going back to the John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard years as well. But even investigations into past corruption will be limited without better protection for whistleblowers.
The key points of the fake National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) are:
- Bare minimum protection for whistleblowers.
- They have backflipped on their election promise for public hearings which will now only happen in exceptional circumstances.
- Massive Breach of Open justice – This is also in part designed to intimidate whistleblowers from not coming forward.
The Anthony Albanese government hates whistleblowers just as much as the Scott Morrison government did and the proof is that they are still prosecuting Australian Tax Office whistleblower Richard Boyle and war crimes whistleblower David McBride. And I have no doubt part of the reason the Albanese government is still prosecuting them is to send a message to other possible whistleblowers to stay silent or they will face the same treatment.
Bare minimum protection for whistleblowers
What fuels all anti-corruption bodies investigating corruption is having as many whistleblowers come forward as possible and Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party know that. So, they have made sure as few as possible will come forward in the future who could blow the whistle on corruption in their government.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus told the media this blatant lie:
The legislation would provide “strong protections for whistleblowers” which is based on “The National Anti-Corruption Commission bill will have its own whistleblower protections, as is appropriate for Australian public servants and people working in the public sector who come forward with allegations that the commission should look at,”
And some journalists and commentators repeated the lie as a fact such as Barrister Geoffrey Watson in the SMH who said: “The legislation provides for comprehensive whistleblower protection”. (Click here to read more)
But others exposed the truth such as Transparency International Australia which reported (28/9/22):
The government gave an election pledge that its package would be “extremely similar” to the integrity commission models previously introduced by the Greens, McGowan and her successor, Dr Helen Haines.
However the bill differs substantially from Haines’ model by not including a whistleblowing commissioner, identified by past parliamentary inquiries as also central to a strengthened integrity system.
Despite recently telling parliament the government was taking the idea of a whistleblower protection authority “very seriously indeed”, it got no mention in the Attorney-General’s speech introducing the new commission.
The government has committed to fix overdue, minor problems with federal public sector whistleblowing laws. But it’s yet to outline plans to address more serious reforms to plug this gap, including an agency to actually enforce protections and make them real.
It remains to be seen whether all these historic integrity reforms, when complete, will be enough to reverse Australia’s decade-long slide on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. (Click here to read more)
The Mandarin reported:
Clancy Moore, CEO at the Transparency International Australia (TIA), told The Mandarin while the TIA welcomed whistleblower protections in the legislation, they were disappointed there would not be an independent whistleblowing protection authority.
“To be clear, our whistleblowing laws need a complete overhaul. We need a centralised authority, a one-stop-shop to ensure whistleblowers are properly protected and listened to,” Moore said.
“For the NACC to be as effective as possible it needs people to come forward and report the problems they see. Otherwise searching for corruption can be like searching for a needle in a haystack.
“Tackling corruption can be like playing whack-a-mole. While the NACC is at the heart of integrity reform — it can’t stop corruption alone. We can prevent corruption and help the NACC detect corruption with better laws to empower whistleblowers and limit the influence of political donations and lobbying.” (Click here to read more)
We need a Whistleblower Commissioner who is independent of the National Anti-Corruption Commission but who could protect people who give evidence at the NACC.
By not protecting whistleblowers anywhere near as much as they could the government has limited how much corruption the National Anti-Corruption Commission will investigate not only for past corruption but also for future corruption. And that is the key feature of the backroom deal that Anthony Albanese has done with Peter Dutton.
Massive breach of the principles of open justice
The principle of open justice is that hearings should be in open court, except in exceptional circumstances, so that the public and media can see what is really happening. And that is what is meant to keep everyone honest, including the judges.
The government has done a huge backflip as they promised public hearings during the 2022 federal election campaign but now say public hearings should only happen in “exceptional circumstances”. It’s got corruption all over it and I’ll do an article just on this issue soon.
I wanted this article to focus on the failed whistleblower protections in the National Anti-Corruption Commission so I only touched on the other failings in the NACC legislation above and I will do another article and video on them soon. The government has set up an inquiry to review the NACC legislation and I plan on making submissions to it.
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