What is Kevin Andrews keeping from us?

For the past few months, the Abbott Government has been seeking feedback on its plans to abolish to Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. Despite promising to make this feedback public by September, there's still no sign of Minister Kevin Andrews releasing it. So the question is:



Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews is keeping us all in the dark about how his plans for replacing the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission have been received by the sector.

In July the government released an options paper which recommended that the dedicated charities commission be replaced by a mix of oversight from the Australian Tax Office and self-reporting by not-for-profits.

Minister Andrews called for public submissions responding to this paper, and his department also held 10 forums around Australia for representatives of the charity sector.

The department promised to publish the findings from this consultation process on its website in September. Yet here we are in the second week of October and there is still no sign of the submissions being released.

Could it be that the Minister is holding back the submissions because they rubbish his idea of scrapping an agency which is making life easier for charities and increasing transparency across the not-for-profit sector?

We already know that a year of dedicated campaigning by Minister Andrews against the commission has failed to dent the sector’s support for it.

In the most recent State of the Sector survey from Pro Bono Australia, 82 per cent of charities said the commission was important for a thriving not-for-profit sector. In the previous year’s survey 83 per cent of charities said the same, so Minister Andrews’ efforts have clearly failed to convince anyone that the commission should be scrapped.

In March this year, over 40 major national charities signed an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for the commission to be retained. The charities, which included the Australian Council of Social Services, the RSPCA and SANE Australia, argued that the commission “creates a regulatory environment that works for the not-for-profit sector, not against it.”

It is not good enough for the minister to withhold submissions made in good faith on the future of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. It is doubly unacceptable if he is doing so simply because these submissions disagree with his preferred course of action.

In the interest of having a transparent and frank discussion about the future of this important agency, Kevin Andrews must immediately release the submissions and feedback from his consultations on the charities commission.



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