The laws, which have just passed South Australian parliament, will enable people to “pass on confidential information to members of parliament.”
It will also enable people to pass on confidential information regarding environmental concerns, public health and public administration to journalists where it is in the public interest to do so.
South Australian Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said new laws will strengthen “transparency and accountability in government.”
“If a public servant identifies an issue that should be investigated, they should be able to pass information on to the relevant authorities without fear of reprisal,” Ms Chapman said.
“These laws will ensure that whistleblowers will not be subject to liability, as a result of their actions.
She noted that if an authority hasn’t responded to a disclosure within 90 days, the whistleblower will then be able to send the information to members of the media or a member of parliament with the same level of immunity.
“MPs and journalists hold an important place in assisting members of the public and ensuring action is taken when required,” she continued.
The whistleblower reform was a key recommendation of commissioner Bruce Lander in a 2014 review of whistleblower laws.
“These laws, along with the journalist shield laws that came into effect earlier this year, are strengthening accountability in government – and ensuring people are protected when they disclose material in the public interest,” Ms Chapman continued.
Lawyers Weekly was recently joined by Piper Alderman partners Tim Lange and Ted Williams to discuss where Australia is headed in terms of legislatively protecting whistleblowers. Listen to the podcast here.