GILLIAN SNEDDON SUPREME COURT DECISION
Mr GARRY EDWARDS:
My question is addressed to the Premier. What action will the Government take in relation to the Supreme Court ruling today affecting whistleblower Gillian Sneddon?
Mr BARRY O'FARRELL:
I thank the member for Swansea for his question. As I have said previously, the Milton Orkopoulos affair, which involved a former member and Minister of this place, is one of the sorriest sagas this State has ever witnessed. A brave woman sought to do the right thing by reporting the illegal activities of her former boss and she has paid an absolutely heavy price. I will not go into the details of the case involving the former Labor Minister Milton Orkopoulos again. Suffice it to say that Gillian Sneddon did what we would expect of any upstanding and decent member of the community—that is, when an issue of gross illegality was brought to her attention, she sought to blow the whistle.
Gillian Sneddon blew the whistle on most shameful behaviour, and she should be hailed as a hero. Instead, she has been intimidated, bullied and disowned by her very own side, the Labor Party, for which she worked for so very long. My Government will do all it can to prevent a repeat of this shameful case. That is why we have introduced legislation to give whistleblowers more protection. Today I am pleased to confirm that the New South Wales Government will help Gillian Sneddon cover her legal liability to the State. Members may be aware that today the Supreme Court found that Gillian Sneddon should pay the State's costs in a case in which she was involved. I do not see why she should have to suffer any more financial hardship for acting in a decent and courageous way.
For the benefit of students in the public gallery, to whom we say to always do what is right, Gillian Sneddon worked for this place on behalf of a Labor member for many years. She saw gross illegality, which I will not detail in front of the students, and she reported it. When her employer became aware that she had reported it, she was locked out of her office. She was without a job and income, and her reputation was smeared; since then she has had less than a perfect life. Her life was shattered in one instant. When she was offered a choice of doing right or wrong, she chose the right path and she was disowned, bullied and harassed by those opposite.
Gillian Sneddon did not commit a crime or do anything wrong. She should not be punished financially. I have directed my department, the Department of Premier and Cabinet, to write to Gillian Sneddon's solicitors inviting her to apply for an ex gratia payment in relation to today's cost order against her. If she makes such a request I will ensure that Ms Sneddon's liability to pay the State's costs will be met by the Government on an ex gratia basis. Ms Sneddon did not deserve the treatment she received from Labor. She should not be penalised for doing the right thing and reporting a crime to the police. Our decision today is the least we can do for a brave and decent woman.