ATO whistleblower breaks his silence
An man facing up to 161 years in jail for blowing the whistle on Australian Taxation Office practices has spoken about the personal toll of speaking out.
ATO debt collector Richard Boyle's home in Edwardstown, southwest of Adelaide, was raided in April last year after he raised concerns about aggressive debt collecting practices within the office.
Mr Boyle faces 66 charges including telephone tapping without the consent of all parties and making a record of protected information.
Days after his wedding and ahead of a court hearing tomorrow, Mr Boyle described the past year as hellish.
He said he lost his job, had a breakdown, suffered chronic insomnia and has had a series of stress-related heart issues.
"I've had some dark moments," he told the ABC's7.30.
"It's taken a huge toll on my mental health. I couldn't work. I couldn't sleep and my health spiralled into what I describe as a devastating situation."
He told the program he has been "in a state of anxiety wondering" since the raid "wondering what was going to come next".
But Mr Boyle appears to have no regrets saying if people did not speak up, "how are we going to change things?"
On the weekend he married his fiancee Louise Beaston in the State Library of South Australia in Adelaide despite the charges.
"It was a total leap of faith to go ahead and make this day happen this year, and our friends and family couldn't be happier for us," Ms Beaston told the program.
"It was just nice to have a day where you didn't have to think about things."
Attorney-General Christian Porter is under pressure to intervene to have the charges dropped.
"There's a very strong message that's being sent to people inside the ATO - if you blow the whistle, you're history," influential SA Senator Rex Patrick from the Centre Alliance Party said.
But in a statement to 7.30, Mr Porter said his power to reverse an independent decision of the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions should only be used in the most extraordinary and exceptional circumstances.
Mr Boyle said he hoped something would change.
"It's taken a terrible toll. It's relentless," he told the program.
"It doesn't seem like it'll stop any time soon."