Shorten’s policy to reward whistleblowers deemed ‘wacky’ by O’Dwyer

Shorten's policy to reward whistleblowers deemed ‘wacky’ by O'Dwyer
Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten. Photo: Matt Roberts ABC, Wikimedia Commons

Labor’s election promise to give cash rewards to whistleblowers has been dismissed as ‘wacky’ by the Federal Government, which argues that current incentives and protections are already adequate.

Federal Labor has announced that, if elected, they would implement a new array of legal measures designed to “reward the brave Australians” who report on organisational corruption and criminal activity.

Appearing on the ABC’s Insiders program, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said that “I want whistleblowers to come forward” and to make “people who are doing the wrong thing” uncomfortable with continuing their behaviour as it would be more likely for someone to dob them in.

The policy would see the creation of a rewards scheme for whistleblowers that would see them receive a portion of the financial penalties that are incurred by wrongdoers based on the information they supply.

It would also mean the establishment of a protection agency as well as the unification of existing laws under a single act while simultaneously funding a prosecutor that would help “bring corporate criminals to justice”.

However, Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, who recently announced her intentions to leave politics, dismissed Mr Shorten’s proposal as “wacky”, saying that it was “too little, too late”.

She said that “most Australians” would not be happy with public money being awarded to individuals who may have “been involved in corporate misconduct themselves”.

She added that “world-class” Government policy already ensured the protection of whistleblowers.

The changes to whistleblower protection laws that Ms O’Dwyer introduced over a year ago passed through the Senate but have not yet been considered by the House of Representatives.

Labor’s policy proposal closely follows the revelations discovered by the royal commission into the financial services sector, which unveiled numerous cases of malpractice and corruption in Australia’s largest banking institutions.