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This country's treatment of whistleblowers has strong echoes of Orwell

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10.06.2019

It has been a confronting week for whistleblowers, journalists and democracy.

It began on last Monday when ATO whistleblower Richard Boyle and his wife Louise Beaston spoke out about the toll on his life since being raided by the Australian Federal Police then charged with 66 offences equivalent to a 161 year prison sentence if found guilty.

Replay

What followed next was a series of AFP raids on two media outlets, News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC, using the fig leaf of protecting our national security.

It caused an outcry around the world as our poor protection of sources and whistleblowers was finally exposed.

“This could not happen in other advanced democracies, which all have constitutional protections for journalists and their sources of information, although of course it does go on in Istanbul and Rangoon – and now in Sydney. How did we become so out of sync on press freedom, invasions of which are the sign of a second-rate country?’ Geoffrey Robertson QC wrote in an opinion piece for the Herald and The Age.

ATO whistleblower Richard Boyle and his wife Louise Beaston talk about the personal toll of speaking out Credit:Ben Searcy

Robertson called on parliament to make amendments requiring police to obtain the DPP’s approval and to make an application to a judge which the media can contest before any action is taken.

It sounds reasonable enough but the silence........

© Brisbane Times