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Wikileaks demonstrates a failure of the system

Wikileaks demonstrates a failure of the system

Australia's foremost expert on effective legislative protections for whistleblowers has said that the existence of a site such as Wikileaks demonstrates a failure of internal government…

Australia's foremost expert on effective legislative protections for whistleblowers has said that the existence of a site such as Wikileaks demonstrates a failure of internal government processes.

Professor AJ Brown addressed the annual general meeting of Transparency International Australia in Sydney last night (9 December) at the Sydney office of Holding Redlich.

Brown, recently appointed a director at the anti-corruption body, told the AGM that it would be a mistake for politicians to make a "martyr" out of Assange - through repeated personal attacks on him and Wikileaks - and that he should be regarded as a journalist.

"The recent Wikileaks revelations are an acid moment in history," Brown told the AGM. "What Wikileaks shows is that if you have good and effective government agencies, you won't need 'Wiki' style leaks, because you already have good internal standards in place [where employees can raise concerns with senior management]."

Brown also singled out the Queensland Public Interest Disclosure Act, which came into law in September, as "leading the world" in providing effective protections for whistleblowers.

Brown, a senior research fellow and lecturer at Griffith University, led a team from the University that conducted a three year study entitled "Whistling While They Work" in partnership with industry bodies, into the management and protection of whistleblowers.

Brown's call comes as more prominent legal bodies speak out in support of Assange.

In Melbourne last night, the Law Institute of Victoria hosted a meeting that passed motions that condemned any moves to extradite Assange to the USA, and labelled any criminalisation of Wikileaks as "a direct attack on the media and freedom of speech".

Speakers at the rally included Julian Burnside QC, Peter Gordon from Gordon Legal and LIV president Steven Stevens.

Lawyers for Assange have recently expressed concerns for his mental welfare, on the basis that there have been calls for his assassination, and have expressed concerns that if Assange is extradited to Sweden he could be subsequently extradited to the USA and tried for espionage.

Speaking on ABC radio this morning, Jennifer Robinson, a member of Assange's legal team, said that they would consider any moves to charge the Australian citizen under the Espionage Act in the USA as "unconstitutional as a matter of the first amendment".

Robinson, an Australian born solicitor with the London firm Finers Stephens Innocent, has previously worked with Geoffrey Robertson QC, who is also part of Assange's legal team.

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