Senate inquiry shows lack of support for regressive ACNC repeal



No support for Government’s regressive ACNC repeal

Public submissions to the Senate inquiry into the abolition of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) have been clear in sending a message to the Abbott Government not to scrap the Commission.

In March, the Senate referred the ACNC (Repeal) (No. 1) Bill 2014 to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee for inquiry and report. Submissions closed on Friday with a range of organisations including The Shepherd Centre, Australian Women’s Health Network and Associated Christian Schools having their say about the important role the Commission has played for the sector.

Organisations have labelled the repeal legislation a backward step and criticized the lack of consultation with the sector about the changes.

Stakeholders have said: ---

“We believe that ACNC should be better equipped, not hampered in the task that is before them.” - Add Ministry Inc (Western Australia-based consultancy)

“The launch of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission in 2012 was a major step forward in creating a regulatory framework that works for the not-for-profit sector rather than against it. In less than two years of operation the ACNC has established strong relationships and credibility by establishing the first public national register of charities, and responding to requests for information from charities and the broader community, as well as initiating the process of centralising all charity reporting.”  - Associated Christian Schools (representing faith based schools in Queensland)

“The introduction of the ACNC and in particular the Annual Information Statement (AIS) has significantly reduced this workload on The Fielding Foundation – thereby making it easier to identify and donate to well performing and transparent charities.”- The Fielding Foundation (a private ancillary fund that donates funds to charities)

“Repealing the ACNC would increase the current workload on charities and forego the opportunity for future savings in workload.”
The Shepherd Centre (a small charity that provides services to children with hearing loss in NSW and the ACT)

“For the first time, people can view on a single website platform information and data on all registered charities in Australia. This is a very important component in building the Australian community’s trust in the work and use of funds in the charities and not-for-profits sector.”  - Australian Women’s Health Network

“It’s most unsatisfactory that people are being asked to vote on this Bill, let alone comment upon it, without first having any information provided about what the transitional arrangements are to be, or indeed what is being proposed to take the place of the ACNC… The ideal that all members of the sector can with confidence be allowed to “self-manage” will not in our view be achieved by this abolition. On the contrary, gaps in compliance, transparency, and reporting will no doubt open up, and prove damaging to the credibility of the sector as a whole.” - The Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH)

This evidence reinforces what we already know about the ACNC, with a Pro Bono survey of more than 1500 members of the not-for-profit sector taken last August finding 81 per cent support for the ACNC.

This was echoed in March this year when more than 40 organisations wrote to Prime Minister Abbott to say that if the ACNC is shut down and the ATO is reinstated to determine who is and isn’t a charity, “red tape will continue to grow, the size of bureaucracy will grow. Services to the public will be reduced. Services to the sector will be reduced.”

This is a Government of twisted priorities. While Tony Abbott’s Commission of Audit wants to scrap the ACNC, the sector is overwhelmingly clamouring for it to be retained.

Monday 5 May, 2014

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.