MEDIA RELEASE - Labor will continue to fight for charities commission - Wednesday, 19 March 2014

This morning I issued a media release arguing that the axing of the the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission would be a mistake. The Government's repeal package is now before the parliament with a lot at stake for donors, consumers and charities. Today some of Australia’s best-known charities signed an open letter urging Tony Abbott to abandon plans to scrap the national regulator.






Federal Labor will continue to support the charity and not for profit sector and oppose any government attempts to repeal the Australian Charities and Not For Profit Commission (ACNC).

Today, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, 40 organisations say if the ACNC is shut down and the ATO is reinstated to determine who is and isn't a charity, "red tape will continue to grow, the size of bureaucracy will grow. Services to the public will be reduced. Services to the sector will be reduced." Signatories include Save the Children, St. John Ambulance Australia, The Ted Noffs Foundation, RSPCA, the Myer Family Company, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Volunteering Australia, Lifeline and many others.

The Abbott Government will sneakily include the ACNC in its so called ''repeal day'' package.

In the week that the Government claims to be cutting red tape, it’s looking to kill an agency that does reduce red tape.

Testimony from sector players and experts speaks volumes:

“The commission is actually working for us and it gives the public confidence, it underpins the consumer benefit to charities.''

-      Tim Costello AO, World Vision Australia CEO, Fairfax Media, 1 September 2013

“During its short history, the ACNC has played a positive role in the overall regulatory environment of charities, and it is well-placed to continue that role. In the short term, it provides the infrastructure for a ‘one stop shop’ for Commonwealth regulatory requirements, and a dedicated force to work with other Commonwealth agencies to streamline their present arrangements. Its stellar improvement in terms of timeliness, consistency of decision making and responsiveness to emerging issues of previous ATO functions, surpasses the sector’s original high expectations.”

-      Professor OAM Myles McGregor-Lowndes, Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, QUT, ACNC Guest Editorial, 25 February, 2014

“The ACNC is a dream come true for small charities. We don’t have the range of expertise needed to manage the ATO and ASIC and we don’t have the time to do compliance for many different groups nor can we easily stay on top of changes in regulations. The ACNC has cut the red tape dramatically. The staff are helpful and navigate complexities so we are sure we are compliant and efficient.”

-      Carolyn Kitto, Australia Coordinator STOP THE TRAFFIK, 6 February, 2014

“The ACNC is more efficient than the government regulators it replaced, is doing good work and deserves a chance to achieve its three goals of reducing red tape, increasing public trust and strengthening the charities sector… Axing the ACNC would be a very clear sign that government is not interested in the considered views of the charities sector.”

-      David Crosbie, chief executive of the Community Council for AustraliaOpinion, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 February, 2014

“Since the ACNC’s establishment as an independent charities regulator, Philanthropy Australia has consistently supported the ACNC’s important role in our community. The ACNC has only existed for just over a year – so far the progress is promising and we want it to be given the opportunity to realise its full potential.”

-      Louise Walsh, Philanthropy Australia CEO, Pro Bono News, 6 February 2014

In August 2013, a Pro Bono survey of over 1500 members of the not-for-profit sector found that 81% supported the ACNC.  Only 6% of survey respondents in the charitable sector supported a return to the ATO as the default regulator (which is what the Abbott Government advocates).

The not-for-profit sector employs over 1 million Australians, turns over around $100 billion, involves almost 5 million volunteers, and is at the heart of all our communities.

The Productivity Commission and the Henry Tax Review recommended a national charities commission.

The Productivity Commission declared the previous regulatory framework to be complex, lacking coherence and transparency and costly to charities.

Abolishing the ACNC is an insult to taxpayers who want to see where their donations go. It’s an insult to charities who will lose visibility and governance support. It’s bad for the public who will be more vulnerable to fraud and scams.



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