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Protection for private whistle blowers

Private sector workers will be afforded the same protection rights as state sector workers under the Protected Disclosures Bill following the release of a Supplementary Order Paper.

State Services Minister Trevor Mallard said the committee stages on the bill would be advanced by the Government and would be on next week's order paper.

"This bill has languished in the House for too long. It addresses serious issues and the Government is determined that it be passed in time to come into force at the beginning of next year," Trevor Mallard said.

"The basis of the bill is that where a worker discloses in good faith and in an appropriate manner, a matter of serious wrongdoing they have a right to certain protection including immunity from civil or criminal liability.

"That right should not alter depending on whether your boss is a Crown agency or part of the private sector. To not make this protection available to employees of private companies is to condone wrongdoing in the private sector and could put the public at risk. For example, serious medical malpractice is a proper matter of public interest whether it occurs in a public hospital or a private hospital. Hazardous dumping of noxious waste is a public safety issue no matter who does the dumping.

"State Sector organisations will be required to put in place internal procedures to receive and deal with information about serious wrong doings within the organisation. Private sector organisations will not have to establish those procedures but disclosure can be made to the head of the organisation, or where that is not appropriate, to the relevant authority.

"The change, introduced today through a supplementary order paper, means the bill is more in line with its original intent, and the original intent behind my colleague Phil Goff's Whistle Blowers Protection Bill.

"These matters have been heavily canvassed in select committee and I believe today's change is in line with what the public and experts wanted following that process," Trevor Mallard said.

ends

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