The AICD has provided a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Economics’ inquiry into the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017.
The proposed Bill makes significant improvements to the framework and accommodate a number of the AICD’s recommendations made in earlier consultations. These include broadening the definition of discloser (including anonymous disclosures) and the range of topics to which protection will be afforded, replacing the ‘good faith’ test, strengthening the compensation framework and increasing corporate penalties for victimisation, among others.
However, the AICD is concerned that there are several aspects of the Bill that may detract from its operation. Our submission addresses how these aspects could be resolved through:
- Amending the definition of ‘eligible whistleblowers’ so that effective protections are extended to whistleblowers without bringing in categories of person (such as relatives) that would complicate compliance with the framework without clear benefit;
- Refining the definition of ‘eligible recipients’ to ensure that the designation is only applied to people who are in an appropriate position and to prevent extending the responsibility for handling disclosures to people who may not be appropriately qualified (recognising the penalties that can flow from mishandling);
- Addressing the onus of proof proposed in the compensation framework;
- Further review of proposed emergency disclosures to third parties; and
- Reducing the prescription proposed in the requirement for companies to have whistleblowing policies, to ensure the focus is placed on protecting whistleblowers and incentivising companies to establish systems for dealing with disclosures while accommodating the unique operational environment of each entity.
The AICD appeared at a public hearing of the committee on 6 March 2018.
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