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ICA flags concerns over whistleblower reforms

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The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) supports streamlining whistleblower rules into a single regime, but is concerned about other aspects of draft proposals.

Broadening categories of eligible whistleblowers and expanding “disclosees” to include third parties such as reporters and MPs are among the concerns, ICA says in a submission to Treasury.

“As noted in [ICA’s] submission to the consultation earlier this year, the regulators are best placed to review disclosures, determine whether misconduct has occurred and commence litigation or stipulate sanctions where appropriate,” the submission says.

“We question the utility of broadening protections to disclosures made to third parties who would not be in a position to take similar action.”

ICA is also concerned about a proposal to change regulations on compensation rights, as outlined in the Exposure Draft Treasury Laws Amendment (Whistleblowers) Bill.

“Under the existing law, our understanding of the offence of ‘victimisation’ prohibits conduct that intentionally causes detriment,” ICA says. “The draft Bill makes it clear that the victimiser need not intend that the conduct cause detriment and removes the requirement for victims to prove an offence has been committed.

“As such, it is our understanding that as long as the victim can prove they suffered damage because of the regulated entity’s conduct, the onus is on the regulated entity to prove a disclosure was not in any part a reason for their conduct.”