SPEECH - Transparency essential to grow the charity sector - 13 February, 2014

Yesterday in the House of Representatives I raised concern about the Government's intention to abolish the charities regulator.




Dr ANDREW LEIGH: An alarming story on the 7:30 Report last night highlighted the need to keep the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. The ABC uncovered a children's education charity which has received nearly $1 million in donations but cannot or will not say where some of the funds have gone. The ACNC shines a light on bad behaviour in the sector as well as strengthening charities and celebrating exemplary work.

The Australian public deserves and needs a charities regulator that provides them with confidence in the charities they donate to and receive services from and provide tax deductions to. Why can't this government understand that transparency and accountability are keys to the growth of the charity sector in Australia?

The fact is that the government has a tin ear for dialogue with the charitable sector. In wishing to abolish the commission, Minister Andrews is going against the vast majority of informed voices in the sector, four out of five of whom want to keep the ACNC.

The sector supports an independent regulator as a one-stop shop to strengthen charities, grow their profile, harmonise fundraising law and reduce red tape over time and, despite the government's rhetoric about red tape, the reverse is true. The government should be working to support charities and charities deserve better than a back-to-the-future approach.

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