Whistleblowers urged to avoid Lloyd
The president of Whistleblowers Australia says Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd is not the best person to take sensitive disclosures to, despite it being part of his job.
Whistleblowers Australia president Cynthia Kardell says she has told potential whistleblowers to avoid Mr Lloyd, after he launched and failed in a $9200 bid to find the source of a leak within his own office.
The leaker was alleged to have given information to the media about Prime Minister Tony Abbott ignoring the commission's advice about using incorrect information.
The commissioner is meant to direct the culture of the 160,000-strong Australian public service, which involves dealing with public interest disclosures from public servants
“It's a signal to every whistleblower everywhere that you wouldn't go to the commissioner,” Ms Kardell told Fairfax reporters this week.
“[Mr Lloyd] is not putting the public's interest ahead of the Abbott government's attempts to delude us.
“I tell anyone who rings me up it's pointless going internally.
“I say if it's something with a strong public interest and it can get a guernsey in the public media then it's worth going to the media and do the sorts of things you need to do to make sure you're not found out.
“We recommend people don't go to the press unless it's something really important.”
Mr Lloyd recently said that public servants would not trust their colleagues if they knew them to be whistleblowers, something Ms Kardell says sends a message that the commissioner “could not trust them to keep their mouth shut about wrongdoing”.
She said she knows that public servants face career-threatening punishment if found to be the source of leaks to the media, but her advice still stands.
Ms Kardell said she had told some workers to lodge a public interest disclosure, but warned them that doing so was like “throwing a coin in a fountain with a prayer”.
Whistleblowers Australia helps hundreds of people a year to blow the whistle, and Ms Kardell says a growing number of these wannabe whistleblowers are coming from the private sector.
She says it is a sign that mainstream Australia is beginning to recognise whistleblowers as doing an important job in society.
“It's in society's interest to be fully informed about our political leaders' doings,” she said.
In the recent case of the whistle being blown on politicians using incorrect information, investigative journalist Andrew Fowler recently wrote a report describing how public servants’ hands were tied by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.