Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2011 ..
Can you assure the Assembly that, since then, all due protection and assistance have been granted to the whistleblowers who raised the issues within the university in accordance with the PID Act? If not, what will you do to ensure that they will be granted?
MR STANHOPE: Yes, I am aware of the issues and of the previous questions and discussion in the Assembly on the matter. I have read the report tabled yesterday in relation to the Auditor-General's investigation of allegations of possible fraud and his recommendation that they be referred to the Australian Federal Police. I understand that the Australian Federal Police have been involved for some months in investigations in relation to issues involving the union. I am aware that there are outstanding matters in relation to the issues that have been raised.
I have to say, Ms Tucker, that I cannot give you an assurance at this moment in relation to the steps that have or have not been taken concerning those that sought to utilise the Public Interest Disclosure Act in relation to the disclosures that have been made. I would certainly hope that every protection has been afforded them and that all steps required by the act have been taken. I cannot give you that assurance, but I will seek that assurance and give you the information as I have it. I simply have not been briefed on the matter. I have not received any information to suggest that they have not been so protected or that the act has not been fully abided by or implemented, but I will get you the information and, I would hope, the assurance that you seek.
MS TUCKER: I am also interested to know whether you are aware of any flaws in the PID Act. If so, can you advise the Assembly on how you will address them?
MR STANHOPE: I am not aware that there are deficiencies in the legislation, Ms Tucker. If there are, I am more than happy to have that investigated. I would be more than happy, now that you have planted this kernel of doubt in my mind, to ask officers to brief me on whether any concerns have been raised about any aspect of the operation of the Public Interest Disclosure Act.
In a broader sense and without being specific, I have had conversations in relation to people who have sought to rely on the Public Interest Disclosure Act and had an impression or feeling that certain of their behaviours or actions would be protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act, subsequently to discover that the level of protection that they had imagined they were afforded was not realised. I am speaking in the context of people who perhaps have been involved in legal actions subsequent to an attempt to utilise the Public Interest Disclosure Act. I do not see that necessarily as an issue with the legislation; rather, perhaps, issues around how it does operate. It may be that there are some issues there in terms of having a full understanding of the operations of the legislation.
Now that you have raised the matter with me-I do not believe that anybody else has raised it with me; certainly, I am not aware of or cannot recall briefings from any of my departmental officers-I will seek the matter out and will happily respond to you.