Gary Johns is unfit to lead the charity regulator - Media Release

GARY JOHNS IS UNFIT TO LEAD THE CHARITY REGULATOR

Appointing Gary Johns to head the Australian Charities and Not For Profits Commission is like putting Ned Kelly in charge of the nation’s bank security.

Johns has been a trenchant critic of charities throughout his career. His appointment signals a major escalation in the Turnbull Government’s war on charities, and shows that Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews still run the Liberal Party

Announcing the appointment, Minister Sukkar admitted that he hadn’t read Gary Johns’ work. For the Minister’s benefit, here’s a few things he may have missed.

‘There is a great deal of impure altruism in the charity business’

-       Gary Johns, The Charity Ball, 2014

‘The idea of public benefit needs to be trimmed and tested’

-       Gary Johns, The Charity Ball, 2014

“The Abbott Government… should deny charity status to the enemies of progress”

-       The Australian, 2 December 2014

“The Abbott government promised to abolish the Charities Act 2013, which includes advocacy as a charitable purpose. It must make good that promise in a way that makes it clear to the High Court that advocacy is not a charitable purpose”.

-       The Australian, 2 December 2014

“[Indigenous reconciliation charity] Recognise is the officially sanctioned propaganda arm of the Australian Government”

-       Gary Johns, The Charity Ball, 2014

“The Beyond Blue line that the tragedy of some LGBTI people is all about discrimination and nothing to do with sexual identity is not supported by evidence. An attempt to draw conclusions unsupported by evidence does no dignity to the national debate and is not remotely the work of a charity.”

-       The Australian, 8 September 2015

“[Parliament’s inquiry into environmental charities] should question the presumption of public benefit in environmental charities”

-       The Australian, 8 April 2015

“If a person’s sole source of income is the taxpayer, the person, as a condition of benefit, must have contraception. No contraception, no benefit.”

-       The Australian, 30 December, 2014

“Look, a lot of poor women in this country, a large proportion of whom are Aboriginal, are used as cash cows, right?"

-       The Bolt Report, 12 July 2015

Gary Johns is a strong critic of charitable advocacy. His belief the Charities Act 2013 should be repealed would take charitable regulation back to the 1600s.

As Community Council of Australia chief executive David Crosbie has said, Gary Johns is a "bizarre appointment", which “sends a signal to charities the government is out to get them". Today’s decision comes after the government has spent five years trying to scrap the charities commission; cycled through five different ministers with responsibility for the charities commission; waged war on charities seeking to advocate on environmental, legal and social causes; and attracted two open letters signed by dozens of prominent charities calling on the Liberals to stop attacking the sector.

Last century, Mr Johns was a Labor member of parliament. Today, he is no more Labor than Billy Hughes was at the end of his career.

Malcolm Turnbull should finally stand up to the extreme right of his party by overruling Michael Sukkar’s decision, announcing that Gary Johns’ appointment will not proceed, and identifying someone who is qualified to run the charities commission.

THURSDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2017


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