On 10 February 2017, the AICD provided a submission to two concurrent consultations into Australia’s private, public and not-for-profit whistleblowing frameworks.
The two consultations were:
- The Australian Government consultation paper: ‘Review of tax and corporate whistleblower protections in Australia’; and
- The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services inquiry into whistleblowing protections in the corporate, public and not-for-profit sectors
The AICD has called for more robust protections of whistleblowers including reforms to:
- Broaden the definition of discloser to include people who have a former association with a company, as well as including additional categories of individuals (such as unpaid workers, and accountants and auditors);
- Broaden the range of topics about which a disclosure can be made to more accurately capture the scope of potential corporate wrongdoing;
- Remove the requirement that a disclosure be made in ‘good faith’ and replace it with a more objective test that does not focus on motive;
- Strengthen the protections against unlawful reprisal including tougher penalties for breaches;
- Give further consideration to a model for third party disclosures in extraordinary circumstances;
- Improve the compensation framework for whistleblowers who suffer victimisation or financial loss;
- Commit to a post-implementation review of the reforms that would include consideration of financial incentives for whistleblowing to regulators (the AICD does not support the introduction of US-style regulatory ‘bounties’ at this time); and
- Ensure that the focus of whistleblowing regulation is on incentivising early detection and prevention of wrongdoing, rather than on compliance with regulatory requirements.
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