Media release - Charities regulator hit by Abbott axe - 21 November

In my capacity as Shadow Assistant Treasuer I issued a media release today expressing Labor's disappointment and concern that the Abbott Government will abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. Charities across Australia with services and programs spanning all aspects of community life including  health, education, housing and homelessness will no longer have an independent national regulator to enhance public trust and confidence in the sector and reduce red tape.


The Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, has condemned the Abbott Government’s plans to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC).

“The ACNC is a one-stop shop, aiming to be a single clearinghouse for all interactions charities have with government. The ACNC is an essential reform to strengthen the sector’s transparency and governance and remove unnecessary red tape,” Dr Leigh said.

“The Abbott Government says it's open for business but is forcing charities to spend less time getting on with the job and more time on paperwork.

“The Government needs to explain to our tireless charity workers why they should spend more time complying with government regulations, and less time helping vulnerable people in Australia and overseas.”

There are 58,000 charities currently registered with the ACNC.

Labor acted on a Productivity Commission recommendation that the ACNC be established to regulate the sector and support its effectiveness.  Established in 2012 under the ACNC Bill, the ACNC offers charities greater public exposure, streamlines charities’ fundraising work and reduces their administrative costs. It offers a ‘report-once, use-often’ reporting framework.

“The Abbott Government is flicking new issues to the Productivity Commission on a regular basis. Yet here is an issue where they are ignoring the Productivity Commission.

“For too long charities that work across multiple states and territories have had to register and report to those jurisdictions as well as work through complex funding contracts and processes that the ACNC helps simplify.

“Australian charities are on the front line of making Christmas a happier one for disadvantaged Australians. Many of our agencies, supported by public donations, are right now responding to emergencies including communities devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.  This is important work made harder because of the Abbott Government’s short-sighted and regressive announcement.

“Labor supported the establishment of ACNC after years of advocacy by the not-for-profit sector which employs more than a million people and contributes more than $43 billion to GDP. It’s disappointing that the Government is deaf to this important sector,” said Dr Leigh.

Minister Kevin Andrews has indicated he will return charities to the old system of state and Australian Tax Office regulation.

“Charities have complained about the fact that the Australian Tax Office was their default regulator. The complexity and size of the not-for-profit sector demands a resourced, national and clear approach,” Dr Leigh said.


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