2GB MONEY NEWS WITH LUKE GRANT
THURSDAY, 22 DECEMBER 2022
SUBJECTS: INCREASING WORKPLACE GIVING
LUKE GRANT (HOST): It is, isn't it, the season of giving. Have you heard of workplace giving? I'll tell you what, I could throw a line in there. Essentially, it's donating to charity direct from your salary. Oh, it's tempting. So, you could contribute a small portion of your pre‑tax salary to charity and receive the tax benefit straight away rather than waiting until the end of the financial year. It's not a bad idea.
Most recently ATO stats show there are 4.3 million employees at workplaces that had a workplace giving program, yet just 5 per cent of people are participating, and I think the question is why? So let's ask a man who might know. He should know; he's the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, for goodness sake, he's Dr Andrew Leigh, and I'm delighted to say that he's on the line from, I'm assuming the nation's capital; is that where you are, good sir?
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES, AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: I'm in Melbourne at the moment, Luke.
LEIGH: But delighted to be chatting with you and your listeners.
GRANT: It's nearly Christmas. You should be home, my friend, goodness me. Tell me about this: there was a thing we had last week, Andrew, we had a Radiothon where with pretty short notice we set out to help Vinnies raise money for Christmas, and we were all astonished here, we got over 100 grand in the day. So it's not that people don't want to give, is it? I think Australians are pretty generous, aren't they?
LEIGH: You've hit the nail on the head, Luke. Australians want to give, and they want to support causes like Vinnies that are doing great work in our community. But often in the busyness of life, giving slips off the to‑do list, and that means that Australians who love to assist charities end up not making it a priority.
The great thing about workplace giving is you don't have to worry about claiming the tax deduction at the end of the year; it just comes straight out of your pay packet, and you can make a commitment to either give a certain percentage of your salary, or else in some places you can make a commitment to give out of the next raise that you receive. Yet, as you said, less than 5 per cent of Australian employees are engaged in workplace giving, which is why we recently held a roundtable with the Business Council of Australia, getting the thoughts of a whole range of businesses. They've been doing things like matching employee donations, or making it easier to sign up, or even improving the link between workplace volunteering and workplace giving.
GRANT: M'mm. That's good stuff. I have to say, I know someone that works for a large banking organisation, and they are all over this, and I just think it's wonderful. So in relation to the tax and how it works, if you were to commit to say giving, I don't know, 20 bucks a week, or whatever it is, do you still claim that when you do your tax, or does something magic happen in the pay office?
LEIGH: Yes, something magical happens; you don't see the money at all. So, because it never comes into your pay packet, you don't have to worry about claiming a tax deduction at the end of the year. It comes out of your pre‑tax income and the charity gets it that way. So that's a useful way of people supporting charities without having to do that additional paperwork of claiming the tax deduction.
We'd just really like Australians to be thinking more about giving. We've set a priority as a government of doubling philanthropy by 2030, because we believe that Australian charities need more support. Right now they're out there helping some of the most vulnerable, assisting the environment, keeping community art centres going, assisting in causes like bushfire recovery. Australia's charities are doing a power of work in our local community, and they need our help to do that.
GRANT: Yeah, imagine if that came out of the Federal coffers, my goodness. So let's get something started by employees today. They could ask their boss, could they not; they could say, "Listen, next year, why don't we set up something like this." I imagine, what, do you choose a charity, and then do you all dip in? I guess you could have any number of charities so long as it wasn't too confusing or time‑consuming for the person in the pay office.
LEIGH: It's so interesting you ask that, Luke, because that is one of the considerations we discussed at the roundtable. Do you want to have a program that's open to every possible charity, where sometimes what happens then is employees start to sign up and they just get overwhelmed with choice? Or do you want to have one in-house charity, which might not be the right charity for everyone, but makes the sign‑up process simple? So you take Atlassian, the tech firm, they moved from having 20 charities to having one, and saw a big improvement in workplace giving a couple of years back. That's one model companies are looking at. Another model is to provide more choice. But if your workplace doesn't have a workplace giving program, an ideal question is to ask why not? And could we set one up?
GRANT: Yeah, good stuff. Now, I could do the obvious here and ask you about the Liberal Party review or when people will see a reduction in their power bills, but let me ask you this: what are you doing for Christmas?
LEIGH: I'm going to be spending Christmas in Melbourne. Both my parents were born in Melbourne, so we get down here regularly, and there's lovely family roots down here. We're not far from Albert Park where there's a statue for Peter Norman, the great Olympic sprinter who stood up against racism. My grandfather was a Melbourne Methodist Minister who invited Peter Norman to speak at his pulpit when Peter came back from Mexico City in 1968.
ANDREW LEIGH: So I love the sort of family roots of being down here, the connections to grandparents on both sides long gone, and the chance to attach up with the extended family.
GRANT: Is Albert Park really the place someone who represents the workers should be spending their time away from home? Really?
LEIGH: Well, I'll be back to catch up with many of my constituents in a couple of weeks, but I love the history of the place, my ‑‑
GRANT: Yeah, nice part of the world.
LEIGH: There's an Albert Park running race that my grandfather did well at when he was a young man. So to run in his footsteps, you know, there's that link to the history, I guess, that you have in places that are familiar to your ancestors. Funny, I don't know about you, Luke, I feel as though I've hit middle age, I'm more connected to the past generations. Maybe there's something about philanthropy too that the best of philanthropy does connect us much more to our communities, and the generations past and the generations to come.
GRANT: Yeah, you know what; you're right. I used to just love sitting down talking to my dad, I don't want to get too emotional here, I just liked to talk to him about things he did growing up in Sydney and, you know, the battles he faced, and it's just lovely. I don't know, I certainly don't want to be ageist about this, but I feel maybe you get to that point mid‑life, whatever it might be, perhaps even a bit longer, a bit later in your life, you really want to connect to what your parents did and what their parents did, and it becomes a real thing, and we get a lot out of that. You know, we should value that perhaps more highly earlier in life, because it gives us more time, you know, considering all that stuff. Good on you.
LEIGH: Well, thank you. I'd like to leave you with one final idea, which might be of relevance to some of your listeners.
LEIGH: Someone gave me the idea the other day that before your parents go you should sit down and get some things on tape, whether it's audio or video, just pull out the smartphone and record them. So in the new year, I'm going to sit down with my dad who's turned 81, and just get him to tell stories about what life was like growing up, because when we're at age 81, you know, he's not going to be around forever, and I want to make sure that there are those stories preserved for me and the kids.
GRANT: God, that's good. That is good. Merry Christmas, Andrew, always good to talk to you, mate. Take care.
LEIGH: Likewise, Luke, take care.
GRANT: Thank you, bye‑bye. Dr Andrew Leigh.