By HELEN TARAWA
PARLIAMENT unanimously passed (90-0) the Whistleblower Act 2020, a giant step forward in PNG’s fight against corruption.
Deputy Prime Minister David Steven, the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, said the legislation was part of the initiative to address corruption and will complement anti-corruption initiatives.
He said the new law was “a conduit for employees that note suspicious improprieties to make protected disclosure in accordance with relevant disclosure channels”.
“The concept of whistleblowing of impropriety has been introduced in other jurisdictions including our region. Often such disclosures have been difficult as employees who observed such improprieties risked being met with reprisals. “The bill is a modest approach in establishing protection mechanisms for employees,” he said.
He however warned that the bill was not the only solution to dealing with corruption.
“(It is) a piece of the anti-corruption system that will encourage a culture of accountability and transparency,” he said.
The new legislation is designed to:
- provide procedures for employees to report suspected improprieties in the workplace;
- Protect employees who make protected disclosures from occupational detriment; and,
- Provide remedies to employees who suffer occupational detriment having made protected disclosures.
It enables employees to disclose any suspicious impropriety within their workplace including a criminal offence, a failure to comply with a legal obligation, a miscarriage of justice, endangering the health and safety of an individual, environment damage, unfair discrimination and deliberately concealing any conduct mentioned above.
There are four types of protected disclosures;
- A legal practitioner in the course of obtaining legal advice. It is protected disclosure only if the disclosure is done in good faith and in the course of obtaining legal advice.
- protected discloser to an employer. If the disclosure is made in good faith and either made in accordance with an approved international reporting procedure or whether there is no approved international procedure directly to the employer or employee’s immediate supervisor.
- protected disclosure to a minister. It also applies to statutory office holders and employees to statutory bodies who are not officers of the public service. It is protected disclosure if made in good faith and to the minister responsible for relevant Act or statutory body; and,
- the protected disclosure to an approved authority.