Nick Xenophon says he will push for better protection of public servant whistleblowers if he is successful at the South Australian state election, in a bid to prevent scandals such as the abuse unveiled at Families SA and the Oakden aged care facility.
The Liberal Party also proposed a similar bill last year in SA, which won the support of most parties, but failed to pass the Upper House.
The SA Best leader said if he was successful at the March state election, public servants who came forward and faced any sort of reprisal would be able to take criminal and civil action.
“That would act as a very powerful deterrent and be part of a huge culture change to ensure public servants speak out when they have information in terms of maladministration, bad practice, waste and even corruption,” he said.
“I wonder whether the Families SA child abuse scandal, SA Health’s chemotherapy bungles, the Oaken aged care scandal and the TAFE debacle would have happened in the first place had whistleblower protection been in place so that employees could speak out much earlier.”
Under his state-based model, Mr Xenophon said whistleblowers would be able to claim compensation because of any retribution and receive a reward for exposing corruption, fraud, wasteful spending and maladministration that would save the Government significant money.
He said a new, independent SA whistleblower protection authority would be set up to investigate complaints relating to government departments and agencies, and local government.
“This will finally put government and its agencies on notice that cover-ups won’t be tolerated, nor will they be able to intimidate and ruin careers of those making disclosures in the public interest,” he said.
“As an additional safeguard, whistleblowers who find that when organisations have failed to respond in an appropriate and timely manner to allegations and evidence of wrongdoing, will enjoy protection under the law to make relevant information available to members of parliament and journalists.”
Liberals promise Water Ski Championship bid
Meanwhile, in a day of election promises, the Liberals said it would bid to host the world Water Ski Championships in Adelaide if it wins the election.
The competition is held every two years.
Opposition leader Steven Marshall said it was too early to say how much the event would cost, but it could be held in September on the River Torrens.
He believed the plan to bring more international events to South Australia would give young people more job opportunities.
“The Australian federation is excited about putting in a bid and we should all be excited about this wonderful opportunity,” Mr Marshall said.
“The Tour Down Under has brought in plenty of money to South Australia.
“We now want to do the same thing for a bid for the world water skiing championships here in Adelaide.”