Coalition delays drain charities' funds away - Media Release

ANDREW LEIGH MP

SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER

SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION AND PRODUCTIVITY

SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE IN SERVICES

SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHARITIES AND NOT-FOR-PROFITS

MEMBER FOR FENNER

CATRYNA BILYK

CHAIR OF THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON CHARITY FUNDRAISING IN THE 21ST CENTURY

SENATOR FOR TASMANIA

COALITION DELAYS DRAIN CHARITIES’ FUNDS AWAY

The Coalition is costing the nation’s charities millions of dollars by failing to update Australia’s outdated fundraising laws.

As Justice Connect’s Sue Woodward notes, “We still have regulations that talk about collection tins on poles that date back to collecting from people in horse-drawn carriages. Obviously this is ridiculous.”

At the same time, our patchwork of state and territory laws doesn’t properly recognise the existence of the internet and mobile phones.

Most important, Australia lacks uniform national fundraising laws. Charities who raise money online are placed in the invidious position of either spending a week doing the paperwork to register in every state and territory, or just registering locally, and hoping they don’t get caught.

Labor established the Senate Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century because we want to work with charities, not against them.

Outdated laws pose a systemic risk to the charity sector. In Britain, charitable fundraising scandals over recent years led to a collapse in trust in charities.

Yet each of the six charity ministers that have served in the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government seems to think the status quo is OK.

While former Minister Sukkar was marshalling votes for Peter Dutton in the Liberal partyroom, Australia’s charity fundraisers were counting the dollars they were wasting keeping up with out of date fundraising laws.

Charities have been calling for fundraising reform for decades, but this latest battle began on May 31, when Michael Sukkar received the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission’s report into the sector.

Labor called on the Minister to release the report and not leave charities in the dark over the Parliamentary winter break. Yet it took almost two months for Mr Sukkar to release the review – on August 22, the last day possible. A week later, he was gone from the job.

It’s now been almost five months since the ACNC review first landed on the minister’s desk and charities are still waiting for new minister – Zed Seselja – to respond. With the reporting burden estimated at $15 million annually, this equates to a slug on charities of over $6 million since the Coalition got the report.

Like his five predecessors, Senator Seselja is out of touch with the charities that Australians trust. He needs to end the ongoing delays that are doing real damage to one of the most trusted sectors in the country.

No wonder two-thirds of Australian charities told a Pro Bono survey that they are finding it harder to be heard by the federal government than five years ago.

Labor urges the Coalition to fix charitable fundraising before more money is drained away from our nation’s charities.

ENDS

Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra


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