Page 2560 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 1 August 2018
(a) continue to have in place a robust and accountable integrity framework across the ACT Government; and
(b) reaffirm its commitment to a review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act.”.
The ACT government has a strong and robust integrity framework with effective mechanisms to support not only transparency and accountability but the reporting of wrongdoing in the delivery of government services. The amendment to the motion I have moved outlines the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012 as the key piece of legislation in the ACT public sector integrity framework, which is modelled on best practice. I note it received the support of all parties in this place for its passage through this Assembly, admittedly before Miss Burch was a member of this place, but all of her colleagues supported it unanimously prior to her arrival in this place.
The Public Sector Standards Commissioner has a pivotal oversight role to ensure compliance against the act, as well as coordinating education and training across the public service. The Public Interest Disclosure Guidelines 2017, in conjunction with the act, provide mechanisms that encourage a pro-reporting culture, and for those who do report serious or systemic wrongdoings there are significant protections in place.
Protection for people who make a disclosure is of utmost importance, and the Public Interest Disclosure Act provides that protection in two ways. Firstly, when a person makes a disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Act the disclosure is treated in the strictest of confidence. Information provided as a public interest disclosure is confidential, and it would be a breach of the act if any details or information were made available which could potentially identify the discloser. There are serious consequences for reprisals against a discloser. Under the act a person who takes detrimental action has committed an offence and can be pursued for damages in court.
The ACT government continues its commitment to an accountable and transparent government. This week I tabled the government’s exposure draft of the integrity commission bill. The amended motion I move today notes the government has agreed with the establishment of the integrity commission. A review will be conducted into the Public Interest Disclosure Act to consider the interaction between the existing oversight bodies, including the sharing of information and the referral of complaints. This is to ensure there is an efficient and effective operation of the new entity together with the existing framework.
For those reasons I commend the amendment I have moved to Miss Burch’s motion. I seek the Assembly’s support, firstly, for the review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act, as part of the announcements I have made this week, and, secondly, to note and call on the government to continue to ensure we have a robust and accountable integrity framework across the ACT government. This week has clearly seen a number of steps in that direction to ensure that such practices are part of the ACT public sector.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (4.58): I thank Miss Burch for raising the issues of public interest disclosures and how the government handles them. The Greens