Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Be careful how loudly we blow this whistle, says DLA Piper


In recent times there has been no shortage of commentary regarding whistleblowers, with the proposed amendments to the Protected Disclosures Act 2000. These are aimed at strengthening the protection available to whistleblowers in New Zealand. That is welcome, and timely; we need better focus on conduct and culture within our organisations. But we’ve been approached by many businesses, with many questions.

In June we presented a seminar on whistleblowing policies in conjunction with some of our Australian colleagues. New Australian legislation came into effect in July, and DLA Piper believes it may cause as many problems as it seeks to solve. Australia has introduced criteria for whistleblowing such as seeing “misconduct or an improper state of affairs”. People can make a protected disclosure anonymously, which is right and proper, but the people who can make such disclosures can include not only outside suppliers to an organisation but also family members of an employee. This has the potential to be unwieldy, with investigations which may turn out to be rumour and scuttlebutt, along with valid complaints.

The other question is what constitutes an improper state of affairs within an organisation. The Australian law does not cover regular workplace grievances of the sort dealt with by HR, unless they amount to serious misconduct but the door seems open to versions of those, elevated in importance by anonymous complainants. In practice that may be some distance away from our current criteria: e.g. unlawful, corrupt or irregular use of public money or resources; conduct that poses a serious risk to public health, safety, the environment or the maintenance of the law; any criminal offence; gross negligence or mismanagement.

With bullying accusations, for example, although it is vital to have these dealt with, natural justice suggests they require a defence and a degree of openness, however difficult that may be to manage. So there need to be clear procedural channels that provide protection but also fairness. Bullying is not in general caught by the Australian legislation, but it could be argued that a bully may bully others, or is already doing so, to the detriment of an organisation. That could appear to be “an improper state of affairs”, to use the Australian criterion, especially as 21% of employees say they have seen “wrongdoing” in a New Zealand organisation. How such wrongdoing is dealt with can be managed, in our view, with these key, clear procedural channels. It is a more sensible solution than vaguely-worded law.

Our Chief Ombudsman agrees that reform is necessary; he suggests that bullying and harassment be included in a definition of serious wrong-doing, perhaps under a separate category. He makes the salient point that there are not these clear and safe pathways for employees to raise systemic issues of bullying and harassment in New Zealand.

In New Zealand we may get legislation setting minimum requirements for internal procedures for receiving and dealing with protected disclosures. We may see wider powers for the Ombudsman to request information from public sector organisations, with broader reporting obligations. The Victoria University School of Government wants the establishment of a new whistleblower protection authority to handle complaints ranging from bullying to fraud, in both the public and private sectors.

Whatever the end result is for New Zealand, it seems evident that a number of organisations here are relying on global whistleblowing policies that are difficult to implement or even to understand. The devil is always in the detail, and it’s the detail we need to develop carefully, rather than rely on the sorts of policy imprecision that can cause confusion rather than add clarity.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

PM's Statement: Deadly Eruption Of Whakaari / White Island

At this stage, we can confirm that amongst those currently listed as missing or injured are New Zealanders who were part of the tour operation, and tourists from Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. That is to the best of our knowledge.

To those who have lost or are missing family and friends, we share in your unfathomable grief at this moment in time, and in your sorrow. Your loved ones stood alongside kiwis who were hosting you here. We grieve with you, and we grieve with them... More>>

RNZ Updates: Police Confirm Criminal Investigation
Speaking at a media conference late this afternoon, deputy police commissioner John Tims said the terms of reference for the investigation will be decided on in the next few days...
Ministry of Health spokesperson Pete Watson said 25 of the 31 people injured by the eruption are in burns units in Christchurch, Hutt Valley, Waikato and Middlemore Hospitals. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Eruption And Tourism Safety
Adventure tourism is a central theme in New Zealand tourism, and by definition, adventure always includes a certain level of risk. That said, New Zealand itself is also at risk of being seen as a tourism destination where commercial factors – rather than safety factors – are routinely allowed to determine the point where the boundary line of acceptable risk is being drawn. More>>

 

Mosque Attacks: Names Of Arresting Officers Released

Police are now in the position to name the two officers involved in the arrest of the alleged gunman responsible for the attacks on the Al Noor and Linwood Mosques on March 15. More>>

Big, Bold, Permanent Change Needed: Children's Commissioner On 2019 Child Poverty Monitor

“I want to see family incomes dramatically raised by increasing benefits and making the minimum wage a living wage. And the Government needs to move much faster at increasing the supply of social housing..." More>>

ALSO:

RNZ Live Updates: Weather Mayhem Strands Tourists; Major Roads Closed

Hundreds of tourists are stranded on the West Coast, and on the other side of the South Island a flood-damaged bridge has closed State Highway 1, after a weekend of torrential rain... More>>

ALSO:

Policing: Armoured Specialist Police Vehicles

New Zealand Police has taken delivery of three Armoured Special Purpose Vehicles. The vehicles are unmarked and look like standard Toyota Land cruisers... They will not be used for patrol. More>>

Single Use PVC And Polystyrene Out: Next Steps On Plastic Waste

The Government will phase out more single-use plastics following the success of its single-use plastic bag ban earlier this year and the release today of a pivotal report for dealing with waste. More>>

ALSO:

Faafoi Statement: Minister's Suspicious Immigration Texts

I have apologised to the Prime Minister and understand I have let her down in regards to my dealings with Jason Kerrison over an immigration matter concerning his family. More>>

ALSO:

NZ First Conflicts Of Interest: New Details Around Timeline

New information has emerged showing it was the New Zealand First chief of staff who identified potential conflicts of interest between a forestry company and two senior government ministers, sparking a series of declarations. More>>

Earlier:

Donations:

Five New Cancer Meds In Six Months: Pharmac Funds More Cancer Medicines, Faster Assessment

PHARMAC has confirmed that two new medicines – olaparib for ovarian cancer and fulvestrant for breast cancer – have been approved for funding... Rituximab and bortezomib, which are already funded, have also been approved for widened access following successful commercial proposals from new suppliers. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 


 

InfoPages News Channels