Whistleblower Richard Boyle Needs Support
Written by: Nick G. on 9 August 2023
A small crowd of 30-40 people gathered outside the SA Supreme Court at 9am this morning to support Australian Tax Office whistleblower Richard Boyle.
On March 27, 2023, Boyle lost a bid to be declared immune from prosecution as a whistleblower, meaning he could face the prospect of life in prison.
Today’s appearance was to appeal the March decision.
Boyle had worked as a debt collection officer at the ATO's Adelaide office and accused the ATO of covering up serious maladministration and lying to Senate Estimates about his accusations.
He first made a public interest disclosure to the ATO itself, and then made a complaint to the tax ombudsman. He felt he had been fobbed off and that the injustices he had uncovered were not being taken seriously, so he took his revelations to the media as a part of a joint Fairfax-Four Corners investigation.
Although the ATO was forced to concede that its practices were unjust, especially in relation to small businesses, and subsequently changed parts of its policies on debt recovery, it has not commended Boyle, but acted to punish him as revenge for “blowing his whistle”.
It speaks volumes about the class nature of capitalist justice that a diligent worker with the public interest at heart is facing life in prison, while the ATO executives come and go as they please.
The same may be said about the disclosures of illegal and unethical corporate behaviour by the likes of PwC and KPMG.
Workers are made to live in fear of police charges and jail for speaking up in the public interest while those from the big end of town who cheat, practice corruption or break the law, undermining the public interest for selfish gain, are adept at using the law to escape its consequences.
Labor Attorney-General Mark Dreyfuss pretended to be an advocate of whistleblowers when he enacted the Public Interest Disclosure Act (2013). Yet it is the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions that has laid the charges against Boyle, and Dreyfuss has refused repeated requests to use powers under section 71 of the judiciary act to stop the prosecution.
As it stands, four decent Australian citizens are having their rights and liberties trampled upon. They are Boyle, ADF whistleblower David McBride, and the two facing extradition to the US – Julian Assange and Dan Duggan.
They could be any of us.
Each of them should be at the top of the Australia Day honours list for their courage and commitment to truth and justice.
We should celebrate whistleblowers, not send them to jail.
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