The Office of the Commissioner for Public Interest Disclosures is independent from government control as to what we investigate, how we choose to conduct the investigations, the recommendations we make, and the views we take as to the actions of public bodies and their officers. Our records are exempt from disclosure under freedom of information laws.
You can talk to us if you think you may have observed improper conduct by a Northern Territory public body or by an employee working for a Northern Territory public body. You can contact us by phone, email, in person, or by writing to our office. You are also welcome to communicate with us anonymously. You can talk to us about most kinds of confidential information without getting into legal trouble for doing so.
We assess whether the kind of improper conduct you are talking about is the kind of matter we can investigate. It does not have to be about a crime, but it does have to be serious, and it cannot be a matter that is primarily a personal or employment grievance. It is not necessary to have ‘hard evidence’, or to even specify exactly who has been committing the improper conduct, although the more information you provide, the easier it will be for us to assess. It is very important that you do not deliberately provide us with misleading information, as this is an offence.
We investigate serious improper conduct. We have substantial powers to collect information and require people to answer questions. The person in charge of the public body being investigated is notified that we will be conducting the investigation, but will not usually be notified of the exact nature of the matter being investigated. Sometimes another public body may be better placed to investigate the allegations, in which case we can refer your disclosure to that body for investigation. Bodies we can refer to include the Ombudsman, the Auditor-General, the Commissioner of Police, the Commissioner for Public Employment, or NT Work Safe. However, we will consult with you before referring the matter.
We protect you by keeping your identity confidential wherever possible. We can also work with the public body to put in place a plan to manage your welfare in the workplace. We have the power to investigate if anyone takes action or threatens to take action against you for talking to us, or for cooperating with the investigation.
We make recommendations to the responsible authority of the public body as to how they should take steps to address issues revealed by the investigation (the 'internal report'). We give the responsible authority a reasonable time to comply. If the responsible authority fails (in the Commissioner's view) to take adequate steps to address the relevant issues, then we report on the issues and the lack of response to the Minister responsible for the Public Interest Disclosure Act. The Minister is required to table our report in Parliament within 6 working days (the 'public report').