Wilkie introduces whistleblower bill

A BILL to ensure ministerial staffers are protected by whistleblower laws was introduced in the House of Representatives on Monday.

Independent Andrew Wilkie said his private members' bill was an effort to take action after a "watered-down proposal" on whistleblower protections from the Federal Government.

Mr Wilkie said while the government's bill sought to protect Commonwealth public servants, it did not protect federal political staffers, who were not protected by any such laws.

"Whistleblowers, in other words those professional people who take a stand and speak truth to power, are every bit as crucial to a healthy democracy as an independent media and judiciary," he said.

"But whistleblowers are too often left with an unbearable personal cost as they lose their jobs, their friends and family, their minds and sometimes even their lives.

"It's beyond time we gave them the protection they need and deserve."

Mr Wilkie said the bill would bring the Commonwealth up to date with similar laws already in place at a state level, which were now up to 22 years old.

"Whistleblower protection was first recommended for Australia's federal public sector 18 years ago," Mr Wilkie said.

"There is nothing radical about any of this and no good reason why the government or opposition would oppose it."

A second reading debate on Mr Wilkie's bill was deferred to a future sittings day, but was unlikely to gain traction with either major party.



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