Public-sector whistleblowers are set to gain the same protections as their counterparts in the private sector, with the government set to overhaul the public interest disclosure scheme.
More than four years since the government was handed the Moss review into the scheme, Attorney-General Christian Porter has promised new legislation will make it simpler for government officials to make disclosures, and provide better protections.
Under the changes, personal employment grievances won't be included under the disclosure scheme unless they indicate wider misconduct or wrongdoing, removing a source of disclosures believed to be clogging up the scheme.
Oversight by the Commonwealth Ombudsman and Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security of the scheme will also be strengthened and other changes will give witnesses the same protection from reprisal under the Act as a discloser.
The response was released on Wednesday as part of the government's response to the parliamentary intelligence and security committee's report on issues related to press freedom, particularly when journalists are reporting information received from whistleblowers.
While the Moss review didn't recommend bringing public-sector protections in line with those for private-sector workers under the Corporations Act, the government response said further experience with the public-sector scheme showed it was "complex, obtuse and difficult to understand".
Protections for private-sector workers from reprisal if they blow the whistle are more clear, with clear definitions of harm and a revised burden of proof.
"The PID Act was introduced by Labor in 2013 and is an important piece of legislation, but it has been widely criticised for being confusing and impenetrable - not only for judges and lawyers, but most significantly for public servants who rely on it for guidance and support," Mr Porter said.
"Our reforms will ensure the Act is clear and understandable and provides an effective legal framework that supports and protects public-sector whistleblowers, while balancing important national security considerations with regard to the unauthorised release of sensitive information."
Labor welcomed the government's response to the Moss review and and said it would carefully consider the government's response before commenting further.
No one should face prison for speaking up in the public interest and exposing wrongdoing. We need better whistleblower protections, and we need them now.Kieran Pender, Human Rights Law Centre
Senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre Kieran Pender said the announcement was welcome, but considerably overdue.
"In the four and a half years since Philip Moss delivered his report, Australian whistleblowers have been raided, prosecuted and silenced," he said.
In the years since the Moss review was handed to the government, the a number of high profile whistleblower cases have ended up in the court system, including former intelligence official Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery, military lawyer David McBride and tax office worker Richard Boyle.
"No one should face prison for speaking up in the public interest and exposing wrongdoing. We need better whistleblower protections, and we need them now."