28 September 2017
Media Release - #2017097, 2017

Expert advisory panel on whistleblower protections

In keeping with the Government's commitment to provide meaningful protection to people who report corporate fraud or serious misconduct, tax evasion or avoidance, and its commitment to the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Inquiry (PJC) into whistleblower protections in the corporate, not for profit and public sectors, the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, the Hon Kelly O'Dwyer MP, has today released the terms of reference for the Expert Advisory Panel on whistleblower protections and confirmed its members.

“The Turnbull Government is determined to get the whistleblower settings right. We need a strong legal framework that gives whistleblowers the confidence to make disclosures; encourages larger companies to develop whistleblower policies and internal frameworks; provides effective redress to those who suffer reprisals as a result of blowing the whistle; and enables regulators and law enforcement agencies to act quickly and decisively upon whistleblower reports.

The Panel will provide advice and assistance to the Government on the design of the legal framework to achieve these goals, informed by the public consultation process commenced by the Government in December 2016 and the PJC’s Inquiry.” Minister O’Dwyer said.

Terms of Reference

The Panel will review and comment upon draft legislation which the Government expects to introduce this calendar year that:

  • establishes whistleblower protections for people who disclose information about tax avoidance and other breaches of tax laws administered by the Commissioner of Taxation; and
  • strengthens existing corporate whistleblower protections under statutes administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority.

The Panel will also review and provide advice to the Government in respect of recommendations for legislative reforms to enhance whistleblower protections in the private, not-for-profit and public sectors made by the PJC, as part of the Government’s response to the recommendations, and any further stakeholder or community consultation that may be required.

Members

The Panel (chaired by Treasury), comprises senior government agency representatives, academics and practitioners with expertise in tax law, corporations law, governance and whistleblower protections generally. The current external members of the Panel are set out below.

Other members may also be added to the Panel, based upon expertise and availability, to assist the Government with this important initiative.

  • Professor A J Brown – Professor Brown is a professor of public policy and law, and program leader in public integrity and anti-corruption at the Centre for Governance & Public Policy, Griffith University. He is a current member of the board of Transparency International Australia. Professor Brown has undertaken significant research in respect of whistleblowing, including a comparison of offshore and Australian law and practices to support whistleblowing. He was previously a senior investigator for the Commonwealth Ombudsman and an associate to Justice Tony Fitzgerald AC QC.
  • Dr David A Chaikin – Dr Chaikin is an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney Business School. He was a practising lawyer specialising in multi‑jurisdictional investigations, transnational commercial and criminal litigation, and offshore corporate and banking law. He has held senior Government roles and worked as a consultant to the United Nations, the OECD-based Financial Action Task Force, the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering and the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
  • Mr Michael Croker – Mr Croker is the Head of Tax at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ). He leads CAANZ’s taxation policy area and participates regularly in Federal Government consultations involving taxation and the Treasury. He was instrumental in the development of CAANZ’s CA Program Tax Module. Prior to joining CAANZ, Mr Croker was responsible for the tax law syllabus within PwC Australia and has lectured at the University of Sydney in its postgraduate tax program.
  • Mr John Nguyen – Mr Nguyen is a partner at Deloitte Australia. He is a governance expert and also specialises in risk management, compliance, finance transformation and large scale change projects. He has lead complex engagements in the financial services and government sectors in Australia, New York, London and Singapore.