by leave—I move Greens amendments (4) and (5) on sheet 1870 revised together:
(4) Schedule 1, item 88, page 47 (line 20), omit "Parliament;", substitute "Parliament.".
(5) Schedule 1, item 88, page 47 (lines 21 and 22), omit paragraph 69(4)(d).
These amendments aim to remove the exemption for MOP—members of parliament—staff for access to the PID Act, the Public Interest Disclosure Act. As I understand it, the opposition that may come to these provisions is that there are potentially other ways in which members of parliament staff can raise their concerns and that there are ongoing steps to provide other protections for MOP staff. But let's be clear: the Greens are moving here a recommendation of the House of Reps committee in 2009—so 14 years ago. The House of Reps committee said members of parliament staff should have access to public interest disclosures. Nothing happened. It was also a recommendation of the Set the standard report, which said that parliamentary staff employed under the MOP(S) Act should be included as public officials in section 69 of the PID Act—and that hasn't been implemented. And it is also a recommendation of the Moss review.
How many times do we have to be told that we should be providing this accessway to members of staff in this place? How many times have we been told that giving access to the PID Act to members of staff is an important integrity measure? If there is an argument that there are potentially other avenues that MOP staff can take, then fine; let there be other avenues. But why wouldn't we provide as many ways as possible for MOP(S) Act staff to make a disclosure and have the protections they need to feel safe? That's what the PID Act does; it allows people who work for the government to make a disclosure in the public interest and do it in a way that they feel safe. That's why we're moving these amendments, and that's why we'd hoped to get support from the rest of the chamber.
The government does not support the amendments. The government supports effective and accessible protections for whistleblowers, including appropriate protections for persons who disclose wrongdoing, including MOP(S) Act staff. The government understands the intention of these amendments is to apply the Public Interest Disclosure Act to MOP(S) Act staff. However, this amendment would not achieve this outcome as the Public Interest Disclosure Act as drafted is not set up to deal with disclosures about or by MOP(S) Act staff. The proposed amendments give rise to a range of complex policy issues that would be appropriately dealt with in the context of implementing relevant recommendations in the Set the standard report or as part of a comprehensive second stage of PID reforms.
The question is that amendments (4) and (5) on sheet 1870 revised be agreed to.
Date and time: 11:04 AM on 2023-06-15
Senator Pocock's vote: No
Total number of "aye" votes: 11
Total number of "no" votes: 26
Total number of abstentions: 39
Related bill: Public Interest Disclosure Amendment (Review) Bill 2022
Adapted from information made available by theyvoteforyou.org.au