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Whistleblower laws are a source of both hope and frustration. When whistleblowers suffer reprisals, as so many of them do, the solution is widely assumed to be legal protection. When journalists ring me about whistleblowing matters, they frequently ask about whistleblower laws, assuming they are more important than anything else. However, many whistleblowers have learned to their dismay that legal protection looks much better on paper than it pans out in reality.
For two decades, members of Whistleblowers Australia have pushed for whistleblower laws, and at the same time have been persistent critics of the weaknesses of the laws on the books. It should be noted that governments, in passing whistleblower laws for all the states and territories in Australia, have seldom consulted whistleblowers - or, when they have, not taken much notice of their advice.