MEDIA RELEASE - Evidence in favour of ACNC "compelling"

Today I issued a media release welcoming a minority report produced by Labor Senators in favour of retaining the charities commission.



Labor Senators have urged their upper house colleagues to reject the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Repeal Bill.

In their Dissenting Report, tabled last night with the Economics Legislation Committee Chair’s Report into the ACNC (Repeal) (1) Bill 2014, Labor Senators Mark Bishop and Louise Pratt concluded:

1.24 The Labor members found the evidence in favour of retaining the ACNC compelling—not only because of the sheer numbers of charities and other organisations that strongly supported the work of the ACNC but because of the soundness of their arguments.

1.25 In its very short life, the ACNC has already registered impressive achievements, maintained strong support for its work and has shown itself flexible and accommodating through the transition period. It has been especially willing to develop mechanisms to assist highly regulated organisations to minimise their administrative burden.


Acknowledging the concerns of the charities and not for profits sector, Labor Senators also reject the idea of returning the regulatory functions of the ACNC back to the Australian Tax Office and ASIC.

If charities have to once again obtain endorsement from the ATO to be a charity, it would mean a return to the same regulatory deficiencies. The ATO does not want to oversee the work of charities. It would be a retrograde move for accountability.

By contrast, the Committee, controlled by Coalition Senators, reports that it “sees no reason why the Australian Tax Office could not administer charities law assigned to it...”

The sector does not agree. In a survey last year by Pro Bono Australia, just 6 percent of Australian charities thought that it was a good idea to return charity regulation to the tax office.

The call to reprieve the ACNC from abolition is well expressed by eminent Australian and Productivity Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald who the Senate inquiry that the Abbott government was inconsistent in pursuing other royal commissions while abolishing “the mechanism that actually gives transparency to the rest of the charitable sector”.

The ACNC was established less than two years ago and is doing valuable work. More than 60,000 charities are listed on its publically available register. Last week it launched the Charity Passport to facilitate a ‘report once, use often’ framework to save charities from reporting the same information to multiple government agencies.

Support for the ACNC as a national charity regulator is consistently at around 80 per cent, as evidenced from an analysis of the submissions to this Senate inquiry and three independent surveys conducted by Grant Thornton, Pro Bono Australia and Our Community.

The Abbott Government must listen to the pleas of sector and abandon its reckless plan to axe the ACNC.



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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.