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Whistleblowers Bill Soon To Be Passed

The Government is likely to pass a laws protecting whistle-blowers in the private sector despite the opposition’s claim that the bill is flawed.

The Protected Disclosure Bill aims to protect workers who disclose serious wrong-doings in their organisations giving them rights to certain protections including immunity from civil or criminal liability.

Labour has widened the bill, which initially only protected public servants, to also cover workers in the private sector.

Introducing the Bill State Services Minister Trevor Mallard said it would be hypocritical if the protections did not apply to the private sector because it would “condone wrong doing” and put workers at serious risk.

However National says the current legislation has many problems. It has opposed widening the bill to private sector employees saying the institution would be difficult and complex.

National says the bill would not protect workers from clandestine discrimination in their jobs after airing their organisation's dirty linen in public.

It says the bill could also encourage wrong-doers to make public their companies indiscretions to escape further punishment for themselves.

Labour has called National’s opposition to the bill is “mainly ideological.”

While it admits the bill is not perfect, Labour says it would go a long way towards protecting workers who acted in the public interest.

The Bill would require public organisations to put in place new internal procedures to receive and deal with an employee disclosing serious wrong doings.

In the case of a private companies, disclosures on wrong-doing would be made to the head of the organisation or a relevant authority. The Government would then take over the situation.

The bill was initially inspired by Wanganui nurse Neil Pugmire who inspired the original whistle-blowers bill by speaking out against psychiatric hospital that was discharging dangerous patients into the community.

Mr Pugmire faced disciplinary action at work over his comments that were only listened to after one of the released patients attempted to rape and strangle two young boys.

The Bill enters the committee stages in Parliament this week.

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