Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Nothing to celebrate

The Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill passed its third reading this afternoon. The government and the Ombudsman are both celebrating this "significant improvement" in whistleblower protection, but as I pointed out when the bill was introduced, it is nothing of the sort. The law still sets the bar for protection unconscionably high, restricts who whistleblowers may disclose to to receive protection, and allows organisations to simply do nothing in response to a disclosure. There is no right to go to politicians or the media if that happens, and retaliation remains an expensive to enforce civil liability, rather than a criminal offence. All of this is done differently and better overseas, and Aotearoa could have adopted those models if we wanted a proper, functioning law. Instead, we got a status quo "reform" seemingly aimed at discouraging and limiting whistleblowing rather than encouraging and protecting it, written by people who see whistleblowers as a problem rather than a solution.

So there's nothing to celebrate here. Instead, its a massive missed opportunity, which will do nothing to improve accountability.