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From Richard Boyle and Witness K to media raids: itís time whistleblowers had better protection

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, AJ Brown, writes in The Conversation (13.8.19) that Australian laws make it inevitable for whistleblowers to be charged whenever national security might be involved, even when the information is in the public interest.

'Never has the case for law reform to properly protect public-interest whistleblowers been so stark. Today, the public hearings into press freedom begin, following the “seismic” raids on media organisations in early June.

'A broader Senate inquiry into protecting public whistleblowing is hot on its heels. This builds on a 2017 parliamentary inquiry, which recommended reforms only partially implemented.

'Yesterday, a crowdfunding campaign for Richard Boyle’s legal defence was launched. Boyle is charged with 66 offences for disclosing concerns about oppressive debt collection by the Australian Taxation Office in Adelaide.

'What’s more, the unknown Australian Secret Intelligence Service agent “Witness K” last week pleaded guilty to exposing secrets by revealing Australia bugged Timor Leste government buildings during treaty negotiations in 2004.

'… The trouble is, Australian laws make it inevitable for whistleblowers to be charged whenever national security might be involved – even when, in theory, they’re intended to protect public interest whistleblowing.'

 

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