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Edited by Adam Graycar and Russell G. Smith
Chapter 23: Reporting Corrupt Practices in the Public Interest: Innovative Approaches to Whistleblowing
23 Reporting corrupt practices in the public interest: innovative approaches to whistleblowing Inez Dussuyer, Stephen Mumford and Glenn Sullivan Secrecy is no longer acceptable; too many lives and livelihoods have been lost or destroyed because a whistle could not be blown. But too often the voice of the honest worker or citizen has been drowned out by abusive, unaccountable bosses. Invariably, staying silent was the only option. Creating a safe alternative to silence represents a difficult challenge, legally and culturally; separating the message from the messenger is still obstructed by vested interests, deeply ingrained sociological habits and attitudes, and by the limitations of the law.1 INTRODUCTION – WHISTLEBLOWING IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST Whistleblowing, or public interest disclosure, is integral to tackling corruption and misconduct. It is essential to democratic accountability and should be encouraged. How whistleblowing is handled is also a means of demonstrating commitment to integrity in government and to good public administration. The media has widely reported on many hidden forms of corruption and misconduct exposed by whistleblowers across the public and private sectors. The list world-wide is long – dramatic examples include the 1971 ‘Pentagon papers’ regarding the involvement of the United States of America in the Viet Nam war; fraudulent accounting practices at Enron; and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. In Australia examples are: ‘Dr Death’ at Bundaberg Hospital Queensland and security breaches at Sydney airport in 2003.2 The media also frequently reports on the outcome of official investigations into corruption and misconduct, following allegations by whistleblowers. Recent...
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