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Broadcaster-turned-senator changes laws

AAP logoAAP 22/11/2016 Jennifer Rajca

When he was sitting behind the microphone talking about the likes of Craig Thomson and Kathy Jackson, broadcaster-turned-senator Derryn Hinch never thought he could change things.

Fast-forward a few years and to 2am on Tuesday , and the crossbench senator helped secure greater protections for whistleblowers and changes to the independence of auditors.

In return he supported government legislation, setting up the Registered Organisations Commission.

It was quite strange to think not that many years ago he was attacking people like Thomson for spending union money on "hookers".

"Never dreaming that last night I would actually be in a position to do something about legislation to stop the Craig Thomsons and Kathy Jacksons," he told reporters in Canberra.

Senator Hinch says if the government reneges on the "breakthrough" whistleblower deal he and crossbench colleague Nick Xenophon would retaliate.

"Hell hath no fury like a crossbencher's scorn," Senator Xenophon said.

The pair secured amendments to protect and compensate union whistleblowers while also obtaining an undertaking from the government to extend the same protections - or stronger ones - to whistleblowers in the corporate and public sectors.

A parliamentary inquiry will examine the whistleblower protections in the legislation and if it recommends a stronger regime for corporate and public sector whistleblowers, the government will establish an expert advisory panel to draft legislation to implement those reforms.

The legislation needs to be introduced by December 2017 and dealt with no later than June 30, 2018, according to the undertaking.

The pair also secured amendments to ensure the independence of auditors, including tougher penalties for non-compliance.

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