Essays on Institutionalization of Whistleblower Protection in Australia Case Study

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The paper 'Institutionalization of Whistleblower Protection in Australia " is a good example of a finance and accounting case study. Whistleblower protection is necessary because whistleblowers threaten the interests of people who believe that their power is more significant than the law (Ramirez 2007). Whistleblower refers to an individual who discloses information about illegal practices of the company, its operations or employees to an authority (Brown 2006, p. 4). They also include people who disclose information about the administration practices of a public officer in carrying out their government functions.

The Ombudsman of Australia posits that the whistleblower should have sufficient knowledge and belief that the information being disclosed is true and is sufficient to warrant public disclosure to the police, Auditor General or Ombudsman (Legal Services Commission of South Australia 2014). Australia has a number of laws to protect whistleblowers. In total, there are nine Acts adopted by Australian states including South Australia, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Tasmania. These Acts are the Whistleblower Protection Act (1993-1994), Corporations Act 2001, the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 and the Public Interest Disclosure Act (Brown 2006, p. 2; Legal Services Commission of South Australia 2014).

The Whistleblower Protection Act makes it unlawful for a company or individual to penalize another person who discloses the information for public interest to an authority. This information includes breaking the law, misuse of public money, mismanagement of public resources or actions that pose a risk to the environment or the health of the public (Legal Services Commission of South Australia 2014). In addition, the Act protects whistleblowers from any criminal or civil liability.

It also recognizes that whistleblowers may be victimized and contains a provision for making an official complaint of victimization under the Equal Opportunity Act. The complaint would then be forwarded to the Equal Opportunity Commission (Legal Services Commission of South Australia 2014). The Corporations Act (Cth) also protects whistleblowers. The Ombudsman states that the Act protects public officers and company employees who provide information on unethical or illegal practices in corporations. It offers this protection by penalizing the victimization of the whistleblowers. Similarly, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 protects public officers who make disclosures from criminal or civil liability (Legal Services Commission of South Australia 2014). The institutionalisation of this whistleblower legislation varies by jurisdiction (Bowden 2005).

The provisions for public interest disclosure in South Australia are either silent or meet the bare minimum or conventional expectations (South Australia 2013). For instance, the provisions have a conventional objective but are silent on the eligibility of whistleblowers for protection. The provisions are silent on whether public officials, employees, public contractors, organisational members and internal witnesses are eligible for the protections.

In addition, the South Australian Whistleblower Act 1993 is silent on how corporations can protect themselves against illegal or immoral practices (South Australia 2013). It does not explain how organisations should handle policy disputes, personal grievances, abuse of process and discretions. Moreover, the Act does not have provisions on the legal protections in anti-reprisal offences, receipt of public reports, media disclosure and the role of integrity agencies in managing witnesses, monitoring and compensating whistleblowers. However, the Act does provide provisions for best practice on categories of illegal activity, wrongdoing by public offices and management of witnesses and whistleblowers (Brown 2006).

References

Australian Public Service Commission 2014, Sect 4.17 Whistleblowing, viewed 23 September 2014,

Australian Securities & Investments Commission 2014, ‘Whistleblowers and whistleblower protection’, Information Sheet, no.52, viewed 23 September 2014,

Brown, AJ 2006, Public interest disclosure legislation in Australia: Towards the next generation. An issues paper, Commonwealth Ombudsman, Canberra City, ACT.

Bowden, P 2005, ‘A comparative analysis of whistleblower protection’, Australian Association for Professional and Applied Ethics, vol.8, no.2, pp.1-15.

Cohan, WD 2014, ‘The personal price of exposing financial wrongdoing can be devastating. William D Cohen meets three men who went public and paid for it’, Financial Times Magazine, viewed 23 September 2014,

Ferrell, OC, Fraedrich, J & Ferrell L 2013, Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases, 9th edn, South-Western Cengage, Mason, OH.

Latimer, P & Brown, AJ 2007, ‘Whistleblower laws: International best practice’, UNSW Law Journal, vol.31, no.3, pp. 766-794.

Legal Services Commission of South Australia, ‘Whistleblower protection’, Law Handbook, viewed 23 September 2014,

Lewis, DB & Carr, I 2010, ‘Combating corruption through employment law and whistleblower protection’, Industrial Law Journal, vol.39, no.1, pp.1-30.

Maria, W 2002, ‘Common law-common mistakes: The dismal failure of whistleblower laws in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland and the United Kingdom’, Presentation at the International Whistleblowers Conference, University of Indiana.

Ramirez, MK 2007, ‘Blowing the whistle on whistleblower protection: A tale of reform versus power’, University of Cincinnati Law Review, vol.76, pp.183-232.

Sawyer, KR 2004, ‘Courage without mateship’, Paper presented at National Conference of Whistleblowers, Melbourne, Australia.

Sawyer, K, Johnson, J & Holub, M 2005, ‘The necessary illegitimacy of the whistleblower’, viewed 23 September 2014,

South Australia 2013, ‘Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993’, viewed 23 September 2014,

Stewart, RM 2013, ‘Australia enacts whistleblower law: New legislation safeguards public servants, but does not cover spy agencies’, Wall Street Journal, viewed 23 September 2014,

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