Treasury is consulting on its exposure draft of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Whistleblowers) Bill 2017 (Bill) and supporting explanatory material.  The Bill creates a single whistleblower protection regime in the Corporations Act 2001(Cth) to cover the corporate, financial and credit sectors, and creates a new whistleblower protection regime in the taxation law, to protect those who expose tax misconduct.  

The reforms to the Corporations Act include:

  • expanding the protections to a broader class of people;
  • expanding the types of disclosures that will be protected under the framework;
  • allowing disclosures to parliamentarians and the media in certain circumstances, if pre-conditions are satisfied;
  • imposing new stringent obligations to maintain the confidentiality of a whistleblower’s identity;
  • making it significantly easier for a whistleblower to bring a claim for compensation where he or she has been victimised;
  • creating a new civil penalty offence so that law enforcement agencies will be able to take action against companies where the civil standard of proof can be met; and
  • requiring all large companies to have a whistleblower policy in place, with penalties for failing to do so. 

The new whistleblower protections in the taxation law are broadly consistent with the enhanced protections under the Corporations Act, and will facilitate disclosures about tax misconduct being made directly to the ATO.  

The Government’s recently formed Expert Advisory Panel will now consider the exposure draft legislation, including assessing it against the recently released report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services into Whistleblower Protections in the corporate, public and not-for-profit sectors.

The Government will consider the Expert Panel’s advice and the feedback received from the consultation before finalising the legislation for introduction to Parliament in the last sitting week of the year.

See the Treasury website for further information.