Chris Merritt, Legal affairs editor The Australian

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The federal government has accelerated its push for a more open system of government by introducing the first federal law protecting public servants who reveal maladministration.

It plans to reverse decades of government secrecy by protecting public servants who reveal serious wrongdoing to the media.

The new scheme is intended to encourage whistleblowers in the federal public service by giving them the nation’s most extensive system of legal protection and support.

Cabinet secretary Joe Ludwig, who unveiled the scheme in parliament yesterday, was praised last night by whistleblowers and legal academics for delivering a scheme that goes beyond the more limited schemes in force in the states. “It is close to world’s best practice,” said legal academic A.J. Brown.

“It will change the culture of government,” said Peter Bennett, president of Whistleblowers Australia.

The scheme will be contained in a planned public interest disclosure act that will fulfil Labor’s promise to address the problems in the legal system highlighted by the case of convicted whistleblower Allan Kessing.