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The jailing of David McBride is a dark day for democracy and press freedom in Australia

May 15, 2024 IN WIP
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Tuesday 14th May, 2024

The link above is to an article in TheGuardian about the case and the court decision.
PEN Melbourne supports the petition by GETUP (below) calling for the immediate pardon of McBride.

David McBride – the whistleblower who helped expose alleged war crimes in Afghanistan – was sentenced to 5 years and 8 months in prison.1

It’s a dark day for our democracy. Today’s news means that the first person prosecuted in relation to alleged war crimes is not a perpetrator, but the whistleblower who shed light on them.

Australia’s broken laws have yet again failed to protect brave whistleblowers standing up against corruption and wrongdoing – sending a chilling message that those who dare to speak truth to power may face persecution, instead of protection.

But as we reel from this devastating blow against our democracy and our values, we can’t stop now.

Tax office whistleblower Richard Boyle ‘s criminal trial later this year is yet another stark reminder of the urgent need for reform and government intervention.2,3

Together, we must call on the Attorney-General to protect whistleblowers – starting with a pardon for David McBride and the dropping of Richard Boyle’s case.

McBride’s sentencing comes after he pleaded guilty to whistleblowing in November last year – an inevitable outcome when the court dismissed the argument that his disclosures served public interest.4

Meanwhile, Richard Boyle, who reported wrongdoing within the Australian Taxation Office, is awaiting the result of his appeal with the South Australian court. Last year, the state court ruled his whistleblowing isn’t covered by Australia’s whistleblower legislation, leaving him vulnerable and unprotected by insufficient laws.5

Whistleblowers are the backbone of a healthy, thriving democracy.

That’s why we must keep the pressure on and demand the Albanese Government intervene and prioritise reforms that truly shield those brave enough to speak out.

Whistleblowers should be protected, not prosecuted.

In solidarity,

Jane, Raisa, and Jordan – for the GetUp team!


Protect whistleblowers, not punish them!

Sign the Getup petition at the link below:

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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International