Open Government Partnership – Australia

1.1 - Protecting whistle-blowers

Overall status:
On-track

This commitment will ensure Australia has appropriate protections in place for people who report corruption, fraud, tax evasion or avoidance, and misconduct within the corporate sector. This will be achieved by:

  • introducing whistle-blower protections for people who disclose information about tax misconduct to the Australian Taxation Office; and

  • strengthening and harmonising corporate whistleblower protections with those available in the public sector.

This commitment will advance the OGP values of public accountability and transparency by:

  • encouraging, protecting and compensating whistle-blowers whose information reveals artificial tax structures and misconduct; and

  • reducing other forms of corruption, fraud and misconduct by ensuring corporate whistle-blowers are also encouraged, protected and compensated.

Current status

On 30 November 2016, the Senate referred an inquiry into whistleblower protections in the corporate, public and not-for-profit sectors to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Corporations and Financial Services for report by 30 June 2017. Submissions closed on 10 February 2017. On 14 June 2017, the Senate extended the reporting date from 30 June 2017 to 17 August 2017.

On 20 December, the Government released for consultation the paper titled “The Review of Tax and Corporate Whistleblower Protections in Australia” seeking public comments to assist the Government with the introduction of appropriate protections for tax whistleblowers and in assessing the adequacy of existing whistleblower protections in the corporate sector. Submissions closed on 10 February 2017.

The Government is currently considering the policy recommendations on reforms to introduce protections for tax whistleblowers and strengthening and harmonising the existing whistleblower protections in the corporate sector.

Contact

The Treasury

Email: whistleblowers@treasury.gov.au

Other stakeholders

Government: Australian Taxation Office, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Attorney-General’s Department, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and other relevant agencies, state and territory governments, Parliament of Australia.

Non-Government: Corporations, peak industry bodies (including Law Council of Australia, tax advisors, other law and accounting bodies), non-government organisations (including Australian Open Government Partnership Network, Transparency International Australia, Accountability Round Table), Board of Taxation,  academia, and whistle-blowers.

Steps to implementation

Implementation Step Status

Establish Parliamentary inquiry. (No later than 30 November 2016)

Completed

Treasury to release a public consultation paper covering both tax whistle-blower protections and options to strengthen and harmonise corporate whistle-blower protections with those in the public sector. (December 2016)

Completed

(i) Development and public exposure of draft legislation for tax whistle-blower protections (informed by consultation).

(ii) Recommendation to Government on reforms to strengthen and harmonise whistle-blower protections in the corporate sector with those in the public sector (informed by consultation).

(May 2017 - July 2017)

On-track

Finalise and introduce legislation for tax whistle-blower protections. (August 2017 - December 2017)

Not yet commenced

Introduce legislation to establish greater protections for whistle-blowers in the corporate sector, with a parliamentary vote no later than 30 June 2018. (December 2017 - June 2018)

Not yet commenced
Last updated: 08/08/2017

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