Increased protections for corporate whistleblowers have passed the Senate with changes to extend the safety net to workers who tell journalists about wrongdoing when companies don’t act.

Legislation passed the upper house on Thursday, with amendments giving whistleblowers the right to go to the media if their complaints aren’t acted on in 90 days.

The plan to put protections in place for people who report corruption, fraud, tax evasion or avoidance, and misconduct within the corporate sector will now go to the lower house.

Government minister Zed Seselja said corporate crime has been estimated to cost Australia more than $8.5 billion a year and account for 40 per cent of the total cost of crime.

“Whistleblowing plays a critical role in uncovering this criminal activity as well as misconduct,” Senator Seselja told parliament.

The legislation has languished in parliament after criticism the government’s plan was inadequate.

Labor and Centre Alliance welcomed the changes to the legislation, supporting the bill’s passage through the upper house.

© AAP 2018