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Queensland whistleblower cases
In late 1994 the then Queensland government introduced whistleblower protection legislation to protect the rights and jobs of those brave enough to expose official corruption and misconduct. But some whistleblowers say the rhetoric does not match reality. They say the CJC has not thoroughly investigated their concerns. That, and the then Premier Wayne Goss's refusal to re-examine their cases, led to a Senate committee being formed to reinvestigate their cases at federal level. Here, we look at some of the cases that went before the Senate investigation.
Kevin Lindeberg was a union industrial officer who lost his job after claiming the government unlawfully shredded documents requested by a client of his, Peter Coyne. A resume of this case is in stories:
- Too much Cooke spoils the broth (9 Aug 92)
- Senate directs CJC to investigate shredding. (Mar 94)
- Key inquiry figure breaks silence (4 Sep 94)
Whistleblowers in the Queensland public service say they have been subject to victimisation for their efforts in exposing 'rorts' such as nepotism in public service appointments.
- Public servant could face the sack (14 Aug 94)
- Whistleblower disciplined (11 Jun 95)
- Whistleblowers mean double trouble (6 Aug 95)
Public servants in Queensland also have been active exposing irregularities in their union's superannuation scheme, a situation condemned in a report by the Senate Select Committee on Superannuation. Background is in stories:
- Consultant uncovers superannuation debacle (8 Nov 92)
- Unions join amid superannuation scandal (8 Nov 92)
- National Mutual under the spotlight (28 May 93)
- Inquiry documents go missing (5 Jun 93)
- Inquiry witnesses claim retaliation (Mid 93)
- Senate Privileges Committee rebukes credit union (22 Oct 95)
- Credit union is "delighted" with criticism (29 Oct 95)
- Senator blasts watchdog (19 May 96)
Greg McMahon was a public servant and senior army who in 1991 began grievance proceedings against the State Government after claiming he had been discriminated against because of his army reserve and union activities. In October 1996, his quest to redress his plight and take the government to Court was aided by a Parliamentary stuff-up (20 Oct 96).
The Senate committee's investigation into Queensland matters caused tension with the Queensland government. Stories on this include:
- Senators take on Goss (18 Sep 94)
- Senate committee threatens Qld boycott (30 Jul 95)
- Senator and CJC clash over whistleblowing inquiry (3 Sep 95)
- Whistleblowers could get compensation (24 Sep 95)
- Whistleblower Leggate wins the war (4 Nov 95)
When it came to power, the Borbidge Government was keen to exploit the shortcomings of the Goss Government in this area. In early 1996, it commissioned barristers Tony Morris, QC, and Eddie Howard to review the Lindeberg case and a second whistleblower case involving former police officers Gordon Harris and John Reynolds. In October 1996, the barristers' delivered their report, which recommended a full-blooded inquiry into Mr Lindeberg's claims. But the Borbidge Government would not implement the report's recommendation to further investigate the role of former Family Services Minister Anne Warner. The report also proved to be cold-comfort for Mr Harris and Mr Reynolds whose case now is in limbo (20 Oct 96).
Queensland's Whistleblowers' Action Group was headed by Inspector Col Dillon. He was the first police officer to give evidence against corrupt police at the Fitzgerald Inquiry. Dillon says the government misled his group about the new whistleblower protection legislation. See the story entitled Premier's staff misled me. (23 Oct 94).
For background on legislation, see Can the delicate whistleblower flower bloom? (29 Nov 92).