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Public Interest Disclosure Reform

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP
Media Release

The Albanese Government is today introducing legislation to strengthen protections for public sector whistleblowers, delivering on our election commitment to deliver overdue reform of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.

The Public Interest Disclosure Amendment (Review) Bill 2022 will:

  • Enforce a positive duty to protect whistleblowers on principal officers and to provide ongoing training and education to public officials in their agency;
  • Strengthen protections for disclosures and introduce protections for witnesses, including expanding the definition of detriment that will attract remedies;
  • Enhance the oversight roles of the Ombudsman and Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security;
  • Facilitate the reporting and sharing of information related to public interest disclosures to ensure they can be properly addressed;
  • Improve the allocation and investigation processes for authorised officers and principal officers; and
  • Remove solely personal work-related conduct from the scope of disclosable conduct.

This Bill will ensure immediate improvements to the public sector whistleblower scheme are in place before the National Anti-Corruption Commission commences in mid-2023.

Reforms to the Public Interest Disclosure Act are long overdue and significant reform is required to restore the Act to a scheme that provides strong protection for public sector whistleblowers.

This bill implements 21 of the 33 recommendations of the 2016 Review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act by Mr Philip Moss AM and is also informed by other parliamentary committee reports.

The second stage of reforms will commence next year following passage of the priority amendments.

This will involve redrafting the Public Interest Disclosure Act to address the underlying complexity of the scheme and provide effective and accessible protections to public sector whistleblowers.

The Government will also consult widely on whether there is a need to establish a Whistleblower Protection Authority or Commissioner.