Effective whistleblowing legislation is vital to the health of a parliamentary democracy like Queensland. Following the 1989 Fitzgerald Report and its recommendations, the State was, in the 1990s, a world leader in the field. But over subsequent decades its legislation, and its focus on the topic, has atrophied – not to any alarming degree but, certainly, to a level that has made this review timely.
Over the course of this review it has become apparent that there are many public servants striving to use the existing legislation effectively to ensure that wrongdoing in the public sector is exposed and remedied, and that whistleblowers receive appropriate and adequate protections – but their efforts are impeded or, sometimes, thwarted by deficiencies in the clarity of the legislation and technicalities in its operation.
The review has concluded that necessary improvements to the legislation are of such significance and number as to call for a brand new Act with a new title and clarified objects; that it be simple to use, easier to understand, and readily accessible to the State’s large public sector. That new Act will repair small defects and shortcomings identified by the review and, more importantly, introduce significant reforms.