The ACT's whistleblower protection laws will be scrutinised in a new independent review, which the opposition says is critical to the success of the territory's forthcoming anti-corruption commission.
The government is paying Adelaide-based Peg Consulting almost $75,000 to conduct a a wide-ranging review of the territory's Public Interest Disclosure Act.
The government agreed to commission a review following a recommendation from the Assembly's select committee inquiry into an independent integrity commission.
The laws are designed to ensure that people who make public interest disclosures, which could relate to allegations of criminal conduct, corruption or misconduct, are not punished as a result of lodging a complaint.
If the complainant is punished for reporting information, the perpetrator can face up to a year in prison, under the act.
Opposition Leader Alistair Coe said it appeared the laws were failing to provide "appropriate and accessible legal protections" for whistleblowers.
"We cannot have a situation where whistleblowers are targeted and vilified for reporting suspicions of wrongdoing or corruption," Mr Coe said.
Mr Coe said it was essential the territory had strong whistleblower protections as the ACT's inaugural anti-corruption commission prepares to starts work in the coming months. Dennis Cowdroy QC will formally start in his role as the ACT Integrity Commissioner on July 1.
The review comes as three specialist radiologists this year started legal proceedings against the ACT government, alleging senior health bureaucrats retaliated against them after making public interest disclosures.
The doctors claim that after making the disclosures, which related in part to concerns about patient safety, they were subjected to lengthy investigations, had trouble accessing entitlements and, in the case of one, lost out on an appointment to a key role.
In April, the ACT Supreme Court ordered the government to hand over correspondence between the three senior executives, all of whom no longer work for ACT Health.
The independent review, which is scheduled to be presented to the government by October, will examine whether there are any potential conflicts of interest between decision makers and disclosure offices under the act.
It will take into account Phillip Moss's 2016 review of Commonwealth whistleblower laws, which found the experience of complainants through that process was "not a happy one".
The review will also consider issues raised in the Assembly clerk's submission to the integrity commission inquiry. In that submission, the clerk said its responsibility to investigate politicians and public servants created an "obvious conflict" with its primary role to advise and support elected members on parliamentary matters.
"How might, for instance, the clerk properly advise an MLA on a matter of parliamentary privilege where that matter happened to be relevant to a public interest disclosure," the submission stated.
Peg Consulting will be based inside the Chief Minister's directorate for a "number of days" throughout the review, under the terms of the contract. Taxpayers will pay for their flights and accommodation in Canberra, on top of the $74,800.
The government expects to present legislation which reflects the recommendations of the review to the Assembly by June 2020.
Submissions to the review are open until July 20.