A Bill that will strengthen protections for whistleblowers has been introduced by the Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins today.
The Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill will replace the Protected Disclosures Act 2000.
“Whistleblowers are critical to maintaining public confidence in the integrity of government and business in New Zealand,” Chris Hipkins said.
“The current laws are now 20 years old and not working as well as they should.
“It is crucial that employees feel safe to report cases of serious wrongdoing, fraud, misconduct, harassment and dishonesty.
“Anyone who raises these issues, or ‘blows the whistle’, needs to have faith that their role, reputation, and career development will not be jeopardised when speaking up.
“The Bill will ensure New Zealand has a strengthened regime for disclosing serious wrongdoing in the workplace, which is critical to maintaining the country’s reputation for high standards of integrity, openness and transparency,” Chris Hipkins said.
The changes will:
- allow serious wrongdoing to be reported directly to an external authority, if a discloser wishes to do so
- strengthen protection for disclosers by outlining what those receiving disclosures should do
- require public sector organisations to provide more support for disclosers
- extend the coverage of serious wrongdoing to include misuse of public funds or resources, whether in a public or private organisation
- make it clearer for whistleblowers who the appropriate authority is for making a disclosure.
“This Bill provides assurance that people can make disclosures without fear of punishment or reprisal. It also ensures the process for making a disclosure is clear and understood, for both the public and private sector,” Chris Hipkins said.