Australian Whistleblower Abused, Harassed After Exposing Asbestos Danger

25 Aug 2015 by under Legal, News, People

whistleblower 100x100 Australian Whistleblower Abused, Harassed After Exposing Asbestos DangerFrom comes a story of the extreme harassment, abuse, and other malicious treatment that whistleblowers who try to expose wrongdoing often must face.

According to The Canberra Times, a public servant was driven out of Australia’s Defence Department under a cloud of accusations that included accessing pornographic material on his official laptop, storing inappropriate emails, and other infractions after he voiced concerns over asbestos waste that had been improperly disposed at a base in Queensland.

The said that government officials combed his laptop, finding emails sent from Defence Department coworkers that included pictures of “Scottish men wearing kilts but no underwear,” The Canberra Times reported, and other inappropriate matter. The whistleblower told The Canberra Times that those emails had been downloaded and stored along with every other department email he received and that he did not even open 95 percent of them.

The agency hit the whistleblower with a $7,000 annual salary reduction that was maintained even after government officials dismissed the alleged code of conduct breaches related to accessing pornographic websites and using the laptop for other personal purposes.

“I hope me coming forward shows what really happens to whistleblowers in the public service,” the whistleblower told The Canberra Times. “If they want to get you, they’ll look for the most minor incidents possible.”

The whistleblower finally left the agency “severely depressed” after years of abuse. He told The Canberra Times that he quit because he was frustrated by the culture within. He decided to go public with his accusations after Australia’s Public Service Commissioner encouraged government employees to avoid turning their back on wrongdoing.

When the whistleblower raised concerns about 20,000 cubic meters / 700,000-plus cubic feet of hazardous asbestos waste improperly dumped on a military base near barracks and in close proximity to a residential neighborhood, he was told to “leave it alone” and “forget about it,” The Canberra Times said.

A project officer acknowledged the health risks of the asbestos dumping, but despite his concerns and the government’s official pro-whistleblower stance, the Defence employee still faces harsh humiliation and other forms of retaliation.

Meanwhile, anyone near the Kokoda Barracks in Canungra, southeastern Queensland, runs the risk of inhaling or ingesting airborne asbestos fibers. Once in the lungs or swallowed, asbestos can cause lung disease and mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung or abdomen that is nearly always fatal. Asbestos fibers also remain on clothing and transfer to upholstery, carpets, furniture, and other surfaces, which creates a serious danger of secondary exposure for others.

Source: The Canberra Times

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