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New whistleblower protections apply from 1 July 2019

New whistleblower protections apply from 1 July 2019

The major provisions of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 commenced operation on Monday 1 July 2019.

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The major provisions of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 (Cth) commence operation on Monday 1 July 2019.

Under the new law, for the first time in Australia, corporate whistleblowers will be able to make anonymous protected disclosures. A broader group of individuals will also be eligible for the first time to make protected whistleblowing disclosures – this expanded group includes former employees, suppliers, contractors and their family members.

Other changes under the new law mean that whistleblowers will no longer need to report “in good faith”. They only need to have “reasonable grounds” to suspect “misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances”. In some limited circumstances, whistleblowers will also be able to make a protected disclosure to the media or members of parliament if no action is taken within 90 days in certain circumstances.

The new laws make it easier for victimised whistleblowers to claim compensation, with a reversed onus of proof on parties responding to a claim and a broader range of remedies, including reinstatement and compensation for damages.

A breach of the new laws could result in heavy punishment, with both civil and criminal penalties applying. This includes fines of up to $1,050,000 for an individual, or $10,500,000 for a company.

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