Yesterday it looked as though we'd get to decide on the future of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission once and for all. Today, the government has backed away from putting it to a vote. This uncertainty is bad for the charity sector and has gone on long enough.
ALARMED ANDREWS RUNS AWAY FROM ACNC FIGHT
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has beaten a retreat from putting his plan to abolish the charities commission to a vote in the parliament, leaving not-for-profits in limbo again heading into Christmas.
Yesterday Minster Andrews finally allowed for debate on the bill to abolish the charities commission, 253 days after it was first introduced to the House of Representatives.
The debate was scheduled to continue today, but the government has now pulled its bill again and will not bring it to a vote before Parliament rises for the year.
Yesterday the government finally brought the bill to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission forward for debate. I kicked things off for the Opposition by explaining exactly why we need to keep this important, effective agency.
Speech: Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Repeal Bill (No.1) 2014
House of Representatives
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:
“whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House is of the opinion that the Government’s plan to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission is an insult to the good work of the charitable sector, and to all Australians who want accountability and transparency when it comes to their generous donations.”
What the charities commission does
Let me start with a story of great concern. It is about some scammers who set up charities with names such as Friends of the Disabled Children's Task Force, Friends of the Underprivileged Children's Task Force, and Chronic Constructive Pulmonary Disease of Australia Incorporated. Australians, inspired by a deep sense of generosity, donated more than $1 million to them. It turned out that there was not much evidence of the money going to the disadvantaged or needy, and those charities have now been shut down.
All scammers are dodgy, but I have always regarded charity scammers as a particular form of low-life. Other scammers exploit greed or lust or ignorance, but charity scammers prey on our goodwill; they take that great Aussie tradition of wanting to help the vulnerable, and they use it to line their own pockets.
Speech at the opening of the Eugene Anchugov Chinese art exhibition
Parliament House, Canberra
3 December 2014
I acknowledge Philip Ruddock and other members of parliament, Eugene Anchugov, David Fang and Kevin Lui.
Thank you for bringing this extraordinary exhibition to the Great Hall.
When I was in Beijing recently I took some time to enjoy the street-life.
I found myself looking on as a bystander to an unusual calligraphy lesson.
Using water from a small plastic bucket, two men were taking turns painting characters on the pavement squares with a long handled brush.
The brush was about three feet long, so they could paint directly onto the pavement without crouching or bending.
It was in no way clear who was the master and who was the pupil.
The Abbott Government has decided to use the last two days of parliament for the year to debate abolishing the charities commission. That's an appalling message to send the not-for-profit sector as they're gearing up to help hundreds of thousands of Australian families out over Christmas.
CHARITIES COMMISSION KERFUFFLE AN EMBARRASSMENT FOR ANDREWS
The Abbott Government’s plans to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission are in a shambles, as the government will this afternoon attempt to rush through a pointless bill which cannot pass the Senate.
Exactly one year ago, Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews stood up in the parliament and committed to sending the charities commission to the chopping block.
As it becomes increasingly clear that the Abbott Government cannot get some of its most unfair policies through the Senate, I joined GetUp! on the lawns of Parliament to wave farewell to federal budget.
Bon voyage Budget!
Speech to the GetUp! rally - Parliament House, Canberra
I’m sure I speak for the other two politicians here with us – Clive Palmer and Christine Milne – when I say that this is definitely the coolest event we’ll attend today.
Today is the 160th anniversary of the Eureka uprising – a demonstration of how people power can change Australia. Now, I’m not urging you to burn your mining licences – those of you who have them – but it is a reminder that people committed to building a better Australia can ultimately prevail.
Friends, Tony Abbott’s unfair budget needs to go. This Budget represents a shift in the burden from the poor to the rich: Robin Hood in reverse.
With the Abbott Government refusing to back my push for greater tax transparency, I took to the pages of Business Spectator to make the case for more truth and less 'truthiness' in the debate about multinational tax.
The truth about the government's tax stance, Business Spectator, 2 December 2014
If you want to know how your local school is performing, you can check the My School website for data on its results, funding, enrolments and more. If you want to be sure about a company you’re doing business with, you can search ASIC’s registers for details of its ownership, history and past run-ins with the law. And if you want to find out where to eat out, many states and territories have rated their restaurants for food safety (my favourite is Brisbane City Council, which gives all establishments a star rating).
Transparency is valuable in many contexts because it helps us make more informed decisions — whether as parents, consumers or businesspeople. More sunlight provides a strong incentive for companies, organisations and individuals to do the right thing.
That transparency principle underpins the Private Members Bill I’ve just introduced in the federal parliament. The bill aims to put more information about how much tax multinational companies pay into the public domain. With better information out there on the public record, we’ll be able to have a frank and informed discussion about whether big companies are paying their fair share.
As the start of December brings a new Labor government for Victoria, I joined Sky AM Agenda to talk about what lessons the federal Liberals should be taking from the defeat of their state counterparts, starting with their unfair budget.
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2014
SUBJECT/S: Victorian state election; Joe Hockey’s mini-budget; Movember
KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda, thanks for your company this Monday. With me is the Coalition frontbencher Darren Chester and Labor's Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant treasurer. Gentlemen, good morning to you both. Let's start with the Victorian election again. As a Victorian, Darren, you've said that some federal issues were at play over the weekend?
DARREN CHESTER, MEMBER FOR GIPPSLAND: It is a disappointing result for the Coalition and you need to be a realist in these situations. It was quite a tough environment in Victoria and some of the federal issues were playing into that. I think primarily it was a campaign fought on some pretty tough state issues for the government. The TAFE issue, ambulance pay, the Geoff Shaw disfunctionality that surrounded the parliament there for a couple of months, that made it very hard for Denis Napthine and Peter Ryan to get a clear message out. There's always more than one issue that plays into an election. I think there's no doubt that the tough budget decisions we had to make, and continue to try and implement, have had some impact but I wouldn't overstate that.
STATEMENT - KATE LUNDY
In nearly two decades in parliament, Kate Lundy has helped shape Australia for the better.
In 1996, Kate became the youngest woman in the federal Labor caucus and a standard bearer for a more representative Parliament.
She has been an early adopter of technology, seeing its power to widen our democracy, and bring more people into the conversation.
Kate is a star of the sports field, quick with a hockey stick or a soccer ball. Her prowess has even gotten her into trouble, as with the time she lost a bet with the UK Sports Minister, and was forced to row down the Thames wearing British colours.
Today I tabled the Fluffy Families and Residents First Group Impact Statement in the federal parliament. It was a privilege to share these families' voices and let them know that our community stands behind them.
Constituency statement - Mr Fluffy families
27 November 2014
I seek leave to table the Fluffy Owners and Residents Action Group Impact Statement ‘Hope in grief: confronting Mr Fluffy’s toxic legacy in Canberra and Queanbeyan’.
For people outside the ACT, the name ‘Mr Fluffy’ probably calls to mind something fun and frivolous. But fun and frivolity have been pretty scarce over the last few years for over 1,000 Canberra families who discovered their homes had been pumped full of crushed raw asbestos by a dodgy contractor trading under the name of ‘Mr Fluffy’.
More tax transparency for a more informed debate
House of Representatives, 24 November
In the tax evasion trial of Leona Helmsley, a prominent American businesswoman from the 1970s and 1980s, a former housekeeper testified that she heard her employer say, 'We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.'
These 'little people' are the hardworking men and women of Australia.
For too long, the 'little people' have been forced to pick up the slack left behind by large multinationals with complex accounting arrangements.
For too long, large multinationals have been able to hide behind a veil of secrecy. For too long, Australians have been left in the dark on the issue of multinational profit shifting. Now, for the first time, Australians will know which companies are paying their fair share of tax.
Companies which follow the rules have nothing to fear from opening their books to the Australian public. Once and for all, this bill before the House today will provide a comprehensive set of figures on how much companies are earning and how much tax they are paying. Recent reports pointing to large-scale instances of multinational profit shifting and tax avoidance suggest that
this information is needed now more than ever.