THE HON PHILIP RUDDOCK MP
03 AUG 2007
Ms Val Kerrison
Dear Ms Kerrison
I refer to your letter of 28 June 2007 to the Deputy Prime Minister,
the Hon Mark Vaile MP, in relation to protection for whistleblowers and Australia's obligations to address corruption. I am responding to your letter because I am the Minister responsible for this issue.
I note that Australia ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on 7 December 2005 and it entered into force on 14 December 2005.
UNCAC requires Parties to develop anti-corruption policies, establish bodies to prevent corruption, regulate the recruitment and conduct of public servants, and promote accountability and transparency in public finance. Parties must also take steps to prevent corruption in the private sector. Australia has implemented the mandatory requirements in UNCAC and some non-mandatory requirements.
The Commonwealth provides protection for public service whistleblowers under section 16 of the Public Service Act 1999. Section 16 provides that an Australian Public Service employee cannot be victimised or discriminated against for reporting breaches, or alleged breaches, of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct to the Public Service Commissioner, the Merit Protection Commissioner, or an Agency Head. I understand that New South Wales also provides protection to whistleblowers under the Protected Disclosures Act 1994 (NSW).
A national research project, 'Whistling While They Work: Enhancing the Theory and Practice of Internal Witness Management in the Australian Public Sector', is currently being conducted to assess Australian whistleblowing laws. This project will focus on best practice in agency management of whistleblowing, legislative reforms and model procedures. The final report is expected to be delivered in June 2008.
I am unable to comment on your particular case. Given your indication that the case is being dealt with by the New South Wales Crown Solicitor's Office, you may wish to raise these issues with the New South Wales Attorney-General, the Hon John Hatzistergos MP.
Thank you for writing to the Government with your concerns.
Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 . Telephone (02) 62777300 . Fax (02) 6273 4102 www.ag.gov.au