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New whistleblowing protections pass into law

New whistleblowing protections pass into law

More than a year after being first introduced to Parliament, new whistleblowing laws have finally been passed by both houses and are expected to come into force on 1 July 2019.

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More than a year after being first introduced to Parliament, new whistleblowing laws have finally been passed by both houses and are expected to come into force on 1 July 2019. This is the first major update of Australia’s whistleblowing protections in nearly two decades, and will impact almost every Australian business.

The new protections include:

  • the ability for whistleblowers to make anonymous disclosures, and have their identity protected (including fines for revealing a whistle-blower’s identity without consent)
  • an increased pool of potential whistle-blowers will be eligible for protection (including former employees)
  • a wide scope of disclosable matters, including information concerning “misconduct or an improper state of affairs”
  • the ability for whistleblowers to disclose the information to a member of parliament or a journalist if no action is taken in response to an internal disclosure
  • mandatory whistleblower policies for public companies and large proprietary companies.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2018 has been several years in the making. In September 2017 a Joint Parliamentary Committee released a report recommending a number of changes to improve Australia’s existing laws. A drafted Bill to amend the whistleblower protection provisions in the Corporations Act followed in December 2017 and, after a number of amendments in December 2018, was passed by the Senate a leisurely 12 months later. This Bill was passed by the House of Representatives on 19 February 2019 and is expected to come into force (pending Royal Assent) by 1 July 2019.

 

To continue reading this article on what steps businesses should take in preparation for the new laws, please log on to KPMG Tax Now.

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KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”) is a Swiss entity. Member firms of the KPMG network of independent firms are affiliated with KPMG International. KPMG International provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.

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