Charities commission ‘options’ paper ignores the only option not-for-profits really want

With the release of the government's Options Paper on replacements for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, I've again called for Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews to listen to the voices of leading Australian charities and keep the commission intact.

MEDIA RELEASE

CHARITIES COMMISSION 'OPTIONS' PAPER IGNORES THE ONLY OPTION NOT-FOR-PROFITS REALLY WANT

The release of the government’s options paper on replacing the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) shows Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews is wilfully ignoring the views and advice of the sector’s leading voices.

During the Senate Economics Legislation Committee’s recent inquiry on the ACNC (Repeal) (No.1) Bill 2014, more than 100 of Australia’s key not-for-profit organisations and charities lodged submissions arguing that the Commission should not be abolished.

The ACNC helps ensure the donations Australians generously give go to genuine charities.

By abolishing the ACNC, the government will undermine the great strides being made by the Commission to ensure dubious operators do not get taxpayer funded concessions.

Respected organisations such as Lifeline, World Vision and the RSPCA have all called for the government to maintain transparency and accountability within the not-for-profit sector by keeping the ACNC intact.

Despite this, the government is arrogantly moving ahead with a flimsy consultation process on what should replace the Commission.

Instead, the government should listen to the sector and look at their contribution to the 2010 Productivity Commission inquiry, which recommended a national register of charities be set up.

The options paper released proposes returning responsibility for deciding charitable status and some regulatory functions to the Australian Taxation Office, while leaving it to charities to self-report on their financial operations.

Neither measure will achieve the kind of effective, efficient regulation that the ACNC has delivered since its establishment by Labor in 2012.

What’s more, the paper proposes switching back on compliance requirements which would see not-for-profit agencies reporting to multiple federal and state government agencies. Australia’s charities have clearly stated that this will make it harder for them to comply with their regulatory obligations.

Although it has been in operation for less than two years, 60,000 charities are listed on the ACNC's publically available register.

Only 6 percent of charities agree with the government that the tax office should become the default charities regulator. 

The release of the options paper is yet another example of this government arrogantly forging ahead with its own ideologically-driven agenda, despite what key experts and those on the ground say is needed.

If Kevin Andrews really wants to ensure the efficient and transparent operation of Australia’s charity sector, then the only real option is to keep the ACNC intact.    

MONDAY, 7 JULY 2014

MEDIA CONTACT: JENNIFER RAYNER 0428 214 856


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8/1 Torrens Street, Braddon ACT 2612 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au