A parliamentary committee has recommended the creation of a new Whistleblower Protection Authority, believing existing laws are largely theoretical.
Laws to protect whistleblowers in Australia are inconsistent and have little practical effect, a parliamentary committee has found.
The Liberal-chaired group, in a report tabled on Wednesday, said existing laws made it near impossible to protect whistleblowers from retaliatory action, hold to account those responsible or effectively investigate alleged reprisals.
The committee has recommended a new authority be established to support whistleblowers, assess and prioritise allegations and investigate reprisals.
The proposed body would also oversee the implementation of the whistleblower regime for both the public and private sectors.
Central to that would be two separate but parallel legislation for both sectors, although Labor and the Greens would prefer to begin with one Act.
The committee said the fragmented nature of whistleblower legislation was a significant issue, with inconsistencies across sectors and laws themselves.
Its other recommendations include:
* Broadening the definition of disclosable conduct for the private sector to include a breach of any federal, state or territory law
* That the government see if it has the constitutional power to include lower thresholds for disclosable conduct that would protect whistleblowers such as those involved in scandals in the financial service sector in recent years
* Protections be provided to former and current staff, public officials, contractors and volunteers that could or have made a disclosure, or are suspected of doing so
* To explicitly allow anonymous disclosures
* Protecting the confidentiality of disclosures and the whistleblower's identity across both public and private sectors
* Requiring law enforcement agencies to regularly update whistleblowers as to whether or not they're pursuing the matter
* The inclusion of a 'reward' system that would allow a portion of any penalty imposed be allocated to the whistleblower