Fears Turnbull Wants Charities Seen But Not Heard - Media Release


Charities and not-for-profits fear a future where excessive red tape and unnecessary legislation will effectively put a price on free speech.

Federal Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits Andrew Leigh and South Australian Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion Zoe Bettison today met with local charities and advocates to discuss concerns over the Turnbull Government’s latest actions to weaken the charitable sector.

Organisations including Uniting SA, The Sunrise Project and Welcome to Australia spoke on what they saw as threats to their work.

These are the people that the Australian public trusts to speak on their behalf on policy issues and Labor believes the contributions of experts who have experience working with the community should be welcomed.

It is madness that Malcolm Turnbull and his colleagues would not want to hear from the people who see firsthand the causes of the problems that policymakers aim to resolve.

It’s clear the Turnbull Government’s measures would create significant additional costs for charities who want to share their expertise and speak up in policy discussions that affect all Australians.

If you put a price tag on free speech, you create a barrier to participation.

Staff hours, book keeping and legal expertise are resources that are already stretched in the sector and Australia already has rigorous systems of accountability for charities and rules that guide their participation in public discourse.

This government wants to put a velvet rope across the entry to the public square - they only want to hear from groups with deep enough pockets to pay their way in.

Labor shares the sector’s concern that the Turnbull Government is working to stifle charities and make it harder for them to carry out their essential work.

Our hard-working charity sector needs a government that works with them, not against them. It’s time to end the war on charities.



Additional comments by Brad Chilcott, Founder of Welcome to Australia.

“The message that charities should not be involved in advocacy is akin to saying ‘you can plant a tree but you can’t protect a forest'.

“The advocacy voice of charities and not-for-profits is not only the voice of the various organisations - it is the voice of every Australian who donates, volunteers or is a member of a charity. When the voice of charities and not-for-profits are threatened, so is our democracy.”

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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.