The case of an IRS whistleblower will have national integrity implications

As for Boyle, if convicted, he would become “a political prisoner,” and if Dreyfus didn’t intervene, he would prove “weak and cowardly.”

“Someday [Dreyfus] will regret not intervening,” said Patrick. “I don’t think many Australians will welcome a person being jailed for doing the right thing.”

Patrick said the case of defense whistleblower David McBride, who is also being pursued by federal prosecutors for reporting war crimes allegedly committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, is the only person so far prosecuted for those alleged killings will.

Patrick in his office with Boyle at Parliament House.

Patrick in his office with Boyle at Parliament House.Recognition:Dominik Lorrimer

Compared to other prominent whistleblowers, Boyle took a cautious approach. He first made a public interest report to the tax office, which was checked internally and then rejected. Then he took it to the Inspector-General for Taxation. Only then did he go public.

“Three independent investigations have corroborated Boyle’s whistleblowing,” said Kieran Pender of the Human Rights Law Centre. “But Boyle now faces years in prison for speaking out in the public interest in a way he believes is protected by the Whistleblowing Act.”

“Some of the most serious wrongdoings in Australia have been exposed and addressed, thanks to courageous Australians speaking out. But in recent years, legislative inaction and civil and criminal proceedings have silenced Australian whistleblowers.”


Pender and Patrick urge Dreyfus to drop the charges and introduce better whistleblower protection laws. AJ Brown, a professor of public policy and law at Griffith University who is also a board member of Transparency International, has examined Australia’s whistleblower laws and found they need reform.

He said cases like Boyle’s demonstrated the need for an independent whistleblowing agency to clarify where the public interest in disclosure lies, rather than the only way to go through lengthy, damaging and costly court procedures.

“It’s no surprise that people walk away after refereeing and have their lives and careers seriously affected, especially when they don’t have the resources to fight for justice for themselves,” he said.

Brown found that managers and governance professionals involved in more than 1,300 whistleblowing cases in 33 public and private sector organizations in Australia and New Zealand said more than half of public interest whistleblowers face serious consequences suffered received no remedy at all and only 6 per cent received compensation.

The attorney general’s office said it would not comment while the matter was before the court.

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Joel McCord

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