5 June 2019
NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) is disturbed by and condemns the prosecution of Australian Tax Office (ATO) whistleblower Richard Boyle.
In April 2018, Mr Boyle told the ABC that the ATO was inappropriately and excessively seizing the funds of people assessed as owing the ATO money, regardless of personal circumstances, in an attempt to raise money for the end of the financial year.
The circumstances of the prosecution of Mr Boyle raise serious questions as to its underlying motivation. When he complained internally to the ATO, he was offered a settlement, including a payout and a gag order.
When he declined the gag order and made a public statement his home was raided and he now faces multiple charges which could result in 161 years in prison. This would suggest the prosecution is more about punishing him for going public than for his many alleged wrong-doings.
It is certainly a grossly excessive reaction by authorities.
Australia should celebrate whistleblowers who act in the public interest rather than persecuting them. The spread of excessive secrecy provisions across government administration is a growing threat to democracy in Australia and whistleblowers are increasingly important in holding government and corporations accountable.
In the meanwhile, the charges against Mr Boyle should be dropped as a matter of urgency. The government should focus instead on measures that will encourage people to shine a light on abuses of power.
Contacts in relation to this statement.
0418 292 656