IN THE same month that the Guardian began publishing Edward Snowden’s revelations of secret internet surveillance in the United States and Britain, the Australian parliament passed its first comprehensive legislative protection for government whistleblowers. The coincidence inevitably raises the question: would Australia’s new laws protect Snowden’s leaks?
At first glance there is a curious contrast between attorney-general Mark Dreyfus’s declaration that the new law would “strengthen the protections for those who report wrongdoing” and foreign minister Bob Carr’s implicit support for the US government’s response to Snowden’s actions. But, on one level, the two are entirely consistent. That’s because the new legislation avoids the difficult question of whether governments should provide protection for leaks like those made by Snowden.