(Image: AAP/Dean Lewins)

In the small, closeted world of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Canberra headquarters, almost everyone knows the identity of Whistleblower #1.

He was the one who was marched out of the commission’s head office in November last year, never to return, his career up in flames. It was four days after internal emails potentially embarrassing to the ACCC had been published in a 60 Minutes investigation into Australia’s Takata air bag safety recall.

“It was the brutality of it, the suddenness of it,“ recalls Whistleblower #1. “It seems to have been done deliberately to humiliate me as a warning to others about what happens to whistleblowers. It was effective because there was shock and horror on people’s faces, as there would be.”