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'It's long overdue': Senator calls for action on whistleblowers

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21.06.2019

Attorney-General Christian Porter’s plan to improve whistleblower protections for public servants needs to go much further, says a key crossbencher.

Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick, who the Coalition is relying on to get its full suite of tax cuts through Parliament, has held a number of talks with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann in recent weeks, where he raised concerns about whistleblower protections.

The latest talks were held last Monday, just days ahead of Porter flagging new public sector whistleblower laws.

Powerful cross bencher Senator Rex Patrick says proposed new whistleblower reforms need to go further.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Patrick said his discussions with Cormann included the Coalition making good on an agreement struck with Centre Alliance back in 2015, which involved backing the government to secure a key industrial relations victory over Labor in return for stronger whistleblower protections. The deal enabled the Coalition to create a Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) to oversee the governance of union and employer bodies.

In return, the Coalition agreed to introduce new whistleblower protections in a two-stage process, including amending the legislation by the end of 2017. The second prong was to look at recommendations that came out of a parliamentary inquiry into whistleblowers, including introducing rewards for whistleblowers and establishing a tribunal.

"We discussed a good working relationship going forward,” Patrick said of his meetings with Cormann. He said he made it clear if Centre Alliance was to negotiate and work with the government it needed to honour previous agreements.

The government has........

© The Age