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SAFE blows the whistle on failings of Protected Disclosures

7 December 2018 | MEDIA RELEASE
SAFE blows the whistle on failings of Protected Disclosures Act

SAFE has demanded urgent strengthening of the Protected Disclosures Act in its submission to the State Services Commission, to protect whistleblowers who report animal neglect, cruelty and law-breaking. This follows the animal cruelty charges laid earlier this week against the Northland dairy farmer who was exposed by a whistleblower.

A review of the Protected Disclosures Act undertaken by the State Services Commission was opened for public consultation in October and the deadline for public submissions is today. As part of the review, the Government has proposed a series of options to improve the Act.

SAFE Head of Campaigns Marianne Macdonald is welcoming the review of the Act but urges that the proposed changes don’t go far enough to protect workers reporting animal abuse.

“The current system for reporting animal cruelty is broken. Workers risk their livelihood and safety by blowing the whistle on animal cruelty or neglect, and as a result, animals continue to suffer,” says Ms Macdonald.

“Rural communities often operate in a culture of silence and even fear. Whistleblowers have received death threats from farmers as a result of contacting MPI to report animal neglect and abuse.”

“SAFE receives a substantial number of reports of animal abuse every year but we are frequently unable to provide the evidence MPI says it needs to act, as we have to protect the confidentiality of the informant when requested.

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SAFE has proposed a series of changes to the Protected Disclosures Act, including guaranteeing confidentiality for whistleblowers, and penalties for those who fail to keep confidentiality or mistreat whistleblowers.

“It is crucial that the Act is strengthened to encourage and protect Kiwis who come forward with legitimate reports of animal cruelty, neglect and lawbreaking. These brave people who stand up for what’s right deserve better, and the animals who are suffering deserve justice.”

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