CHARITIES STILL WAITING FOR LEADERSHIP FROM TARDY SESELJA
The sector that Australians trust most is being kept in the dark by Scott Morrison and his charities spokesperson Zed Seselja, as charities wait for the Coalition to improve the transparency and governance of its regulator and free it from costly red tape.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Legislation Review was handed to government on May 31, 2018. That’s nearly 18 months that the sector has waited for a response on the important reforms recommended by the review.
The legislation review was built into the legislation by Labor. When the Gillard Government set up the charities commission, we required that it be reviewed after five years of operation, to provide feedback to government on possible improvements.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission was recommended by more than a dozen reviews, yet the Coalition tried to scrap it until 2016. When they realised that parliament would not support the repeal of the charities commission, the Coalition shifted instead to appointing a charity critic as its head.
Under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government, charities and non-profits have been under attack, prompting two open letters from the sector to the Prime Minister. The Coalition has attacked advocacy by environmental, legal and social services charities. They don’t just want quiet Australians - they want silent Australians.
Today, the Coalition cannot even accomplish something as straightforward as responding to its own review. Among other critical reforms, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission review called on the government to:
- Fix fundraising to save charities $15 million a year spent on unnecessary paperwork.
- Improve secrecy provisions to enhance public trust in the regulatory activity of the commission and in the activities of the sector.
- Develop clearer guidelines to support the legitimate advocacy work of Australian charities.
While Scott Morrison floats thought bubbles about criminalising consumer choice and public protest, Seselja’s sluggish neglect of the needs of modern charities is setting back the work they do for vulnerable Australians.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.