TWU Backs Whistleblower Protection laws

Release date: 3/09/2010

The Transport Workers Union has voiced its support of a proposal by newly elected Tasmanian MP, Andrew Wilkie and South Australian Senator Nick Xenaphon, for the introduction of whistleblower protection legislation to be introduced into national parliament.

Transport Workers Union national secretary, Tony Sheldon, said that whistleblowers were not encouraged to step forward in matters where security and safety were at risk because there were no protections on offer.

“If we look at the case of Allan Kessing – here is a situation where a man has been virtually bankrupted trying to clear his name after being prosecuted for releasing information for the good of the public,” Mr Sheldon said.

“Mr Kessing’s showed there was a number of flaws in security at the airport, including a report on risk analysis specific to private security staff employed by the privatized airport corporation,” Mr Sheldon said.

The Transport Workers Union has long campaigned against the outsourcing of work through labour hire arrangements, as it creates security risks through poor screening, a lack of training and high turnover of staff.

“It was only once these details came to light that we saw the Wheeler Inquiry in 2005. Headed by Sir John Wheeler, the inquiry examined the lack of integration between security and law enforcement, and the inadequacy of existing security requirements,” Mr Sheldon said.

“The report noted that there was a lack of coordination between state police and federal police, as well as local security and this was highlighted at the March 2009 “bikie brawl” at Sydney’s domestic terminal.

“Mr Kessing was charged under section 70 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, which outlaws unauthorised disclosures of government information by public servants. This is wrong and the law should be rectified.

“Mr Wilkie and Mr Xenaphon’s stance should be supported by all sides of parliament and introduced into parliament at the first possible convenience,” Mr Sheldon said. 
The TWU will be distributing a petition throughout its airport membership calling on the government to support changes to whistleblower laws.

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