Senate passes motion of support for charities commission - Joint Media Release with Senator Penny Wong


The Senate has today voiced support for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission in the face of ongoing uncertainty about its future under the Abbott Government.

Labor moved a motion acknowledging the strong support the commission has within the charity sector and called on the Abbott Government to drop plans to scrap it.

In March last year the Government introduced a bill to Parliament to repeal the charities commission. That bill has remained on the Notice Paper even after Scott Morrison replaced Kevin Andrews as Social Services minister and acknowledged that abolishing the commission was not his priority. 

Today the Senate called on the Abbott Government to discharge this bill and commit to keeping the commission open.

The charities sector needs certainty from the Social Services Minister. Charities Commissioner Susan Pascoe has stated that the uncertainty about her organisation’s future is leading some not-for-profits to ignore their legal reporting obligations.

It is also creating obstacles for the commission in working with other Commonwealth agencies and leading to huge turnover of experienced staff.

“We’ve found a reluctance with a number of agencies to effect even simple changes because they think we won’t be around.” Charities Commissioner Susan Pascoe, Senate Estimates, 2 June 2015

During the last financial year we had a high attrition rate which to large extent could be attributed to the uncertainty. We lost 23 per cent of our staff during that period…so no doubt it has impacted on our ability to regulate successfully.” – Assistant Charities Commissioner David Locke, Senate Estimates, 22 October 2014

The Abbott Government made the wrong call in March last year when it first tried to abolish the charities commission.

Today’s Senate motion provides an opportunity to right that wrong and finally give the Australian charities sector some certainty after almost two years of upheaval under the Abbott Government.


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