Labor To Reward Those Who Dob In 'Crooks'
Whistleblowers who dob in dodgy bosses could reap a hefty reward if their tip-off leads to successful court action under a plan from Labor.
The opposition's proposal would also strengthen protections for private and public sector whistleblowers and set up an agency within the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman to aid them.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it is incredibly difficult at the moment for people to blow the whistle on crime and misconduct, with many people facing reprisals and some never able to work again.
"Are we a country that says we want people to sacrifice everything to expose illegality or corruption and then we punish them?" he told ABC's Insiders.
"What our plan means for people who are doing the wrong thing is that just beware of the person next to you because they might want the reward and not put up with the corruption.
"We want to say to whistleblowers: we've got your back."
The plan would see whistleblowers receive a proportion of any financial penalty imposed on the guilty party.
This level is yet to be set, but under the tax whistleblowing policy Labor announced in 2017 the party mooted payments of one percent of the fine or $250,000, whichever was higher.
Similar schemes are in place in the U.S., Canada and Britain.
But Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O'Dwyer rubbished the plan, saying the American version had led to people being sent to jail and still given big taxpayer payouts for their information.
"This wacky idea that you hand taxpayer dollars over to people who might have been involved in corporate misconduct themselves is not one that I think would sit well with most Australians," she told reporters in Melbourne.
Shorten said the generous U.S. scheme had led to some big breakthroughs in financial scandals because it encouraged people involved to come forward.
Under Labor's plan, the agencies in charge of determining rewards would take a number of factors into account, including the timeliness of the disclosure, and any involvement by the whistleblower in the misconduct.
O'Dwyer talked up the government's legislation to broaden existing protections for corporate and financial sector whistleblowers, which passed the Senate in December, a year after first being put to parliament.
She expects it will pass the lower house to become law by the end of February.
The Labor proposal has been announced ahead of the release of the final report of the Financial Services Royal Commission, which came out of revelations by Jeff Morris, who exposed corrupt practices at Commonwealth Bank.
Labor also plans to bring all whistleblowing laws under a single piece of legislation to make sure private, public and union sector employees come under the same regime.