Whistleblowers who face prosecution themselves after calling out crimes and injustice will receive backing from a new fund.
Former senator Rex Patrick on Wednesday launched the Whistleblower Justice Fund amid growing calls to drop the criminal case against Richard Boyle, who blew the whistle on aggressive collection tactics by the Australian Tax Office.
Mr Patrick will spearhead a campaign in the coming months to pressure the government to dump charges against Mr Boyle and David McBride, the man who exposed allegations of war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
Mr Boyle was “suffering from persecution by prosecution”, Independent MP and former journalist Zoe Daniel said.
The MP for Goldstein said the former debt collector, who is scheduled to go to trial next year, was being dragged through the courts, had his finances destroyed and his mental health deteriorated simply for telling the truth.
Even when the truth had been exposed, whistleblowers still had inadequate protections, Ms Daniel said.
“The Australian Tax Office has admitted that the tactics that Boyle had the courage to call out were grievously wrong,” she said.
“This scandal also demonstrates that existing whistleblower laws, afford no real protection for those with the courage to call out corruption and wrongdoing.”
Ms Daniel called for the attorney-general to enhance whistleblower protections, pointing to his promise to strengthen the regime before the anti-corruption commission came into operation in the middle of the year. “Where is it?” she said.
Mr McBride is set to face a criminal trial in November charged with unlawfully disclosing sensitive information.
A subsequent investigation stemming from his revelations found credible evidence of war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan, and one man has since been charged with the war crime of murder.