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Public interest disclosure scheme

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06 August 2021

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (the Act) is a legislative scheme for the reporting and investigation of allegations of serious wrongdoing in the Commonwealth public sector. Under the Act, current and former public officials (as defined in section 69 of the Act) can report suspected wrongdoing in the Commonwealth public sector.

The objectives of the Act are to:

  • promote the integrity and accountability of the Commonwealth public sector
  • encourage and facilitate the making of Public Interest Disclosures (PIDs) by public officials
  • ensure that public officials who make PIDs are supported and protected from adverse consequences relating to the disclosures
  • ensure that disclosures by public officials are properly investigated and dealt with.

Contents

What is ‘disclosable conduct’?

Disclosable conduct is defined in section 29 of the Act and includes conduct that:

  • contravenes a law
  • is corrupt
  • wastes public funds
  • abuses public trust
  • unreasonably endangers health, safety and/or the environment
  • could, if proved, give reasonable grounds for disciplinary action.

Who can make a PID?

Generally, a discloser must be a current or former public official including:

  • public servants (ongoing, non-ongoing and casual)
  • parliamentary service employees
  • service providers under a Commonwealth contract
  • statutory office holders
  • staff of Commonwealth companies
  • temporary employees engaged through a recruitment agency.

Protections provided under the Act

The Act ensures you are immune from civil, criminal and administrative liability (including disciplinary action) that might otherwise arise from making the disclosure. However, you would not be protected from liability (including disciplinary action) if you knowingly making a false or misleading statement, or knowingly making a disclosure that contravenes a designated publication restriction without reasonable excuse (see sections 11 and 11A of the Act).

Making a disclosure does not entitle you to protection from the consequences of your own wrongdoing (see section 12 of the Act).

The protection will also ensure there’s no:

  • disclosure of your identity without consent
  • reprisal action and/or threats of reprisal.

How to make a disclosure

A disclosure can be made to an Authorised Officer, who is appointed by the agency to accept, process and manage PIDs. You can make a disclosure to an Authorised officer by:

  • lodging a PID report via the Online Reporting Tool
  • accessing the Online Reporting Tool via QR Code:
    QR code for the Online Reporting Tool
  • reporting it to your Supervisor/Manager
  • calling or emailing the most appropriate Authorised Officer directly
  • writing to the Authorised Officer at GPO Box 621, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
  • emailing PID@cleanenergyregulator.gov.au.

Subject lines or envelopes should be marked “Confidential – CER PID – For the Attention of (insert Authorised Officer name to disclose it to), Authorised Officer”.

Currently our Authorised Officers are:

  • Geoff Purvis-Smith
  • Julie Keayes.

If you are concerned about making a disclosure directly to the agency, you can make a disclosure to the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

What information to include

To assist us in assessing and properly investigating your PID, you should generally include:

  • details of the alleged wrongdoing
  • who committed the alleged wrongdoing
  • when and where the alleged wrongdoing occurred
  • relevant events surrounding the issue
  • if you did anything in response to the wrongdoing
  • others who know about the wrongdoing and have allowed it to continue
  • if you’re concerned about possible reprisals as a result of making your disclosure
  • any supporting documentation and/or any witnesses
  • your name and contact details, unless you want to be anonymous

Procedures for handling PIDs

To assist in the implementation of the scheme, the Clean Energy Regulator has developed Procedures for Handling Public Interest Disclosure.

Information for staff

Information for supervisors and Authorised Officers

The Public Interest Disclosure Scheme is supported by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Further information can be found on the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s website.


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