LABOR RECOGNISES OUTGOING CHARITIES COMMISSION HEAD SUSAN PASCOE
Labor acknowledges the service of the head of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission, Susan Pascoe, who has not been reappointed by the Turnbull Government.
The charities commission was created by the Gillard Government in 2011, following numerous independent inquiries that called for such a body. Ms Pascoe was announced as its inaugural commissioner the following year.
In 2007, Ms Pascoe was appointed Member of the Order of Australia for service to education through a range of executive roles. She has won a number of significant awards, including the Outstanding Contribution in Public Administration Award last year. Ms Pascoe has been praised by the public service and charities alike. As advisory board chair Tony Stuart put it, under her leadership, the charities commission has ‘not only survived – but thrived’.
From 2011 to March 2016, the Coalition was committed to abolishing the charities commission. Despite the fact that the commission was established to reduce the reporting burden on charities, the Coalition used their first ‘red tape repeal day’ to attempt to abolish it. The Coalition even introduced legislation to parliament in an attempt to scrap the charities commission.
Surveys consistently show that four out of five charities support the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission. The body provides transparency for taxpayers, efficiency for charities and accountability for donors. Yet it took a concerted campaign, including a letter from more than 40 major charities, before the Coalition finally withdrew their legislation to scrap the charities commission. That uncertainty placed considerable stress on the organisation, which experienced up to 25 percent annual staff turnover during the time that it was slated for abolition.
Since coming to office in 2013, the Coalition has had five ministers responsible for the charities commission:
- Kevin Andrews
- Scott Morrison
- Christian Porter
- Michael McCormack
- Michael Sukkar
The most recent minister, Michael Sukkar, has decided not to reappoint Ms Pascoe in her position. Labor and the charity sector will be looking to the Turnbull Government to nominate a replacement of equally high calibre.
While his immediate predecessor, Michael McCormack, was vocal in his support for the charities commission, Mr Sukkar is yet to provide any formal indication that he shares this view. So far, he has failed to meet with the board of the charities commission. Senior charity sector leaders have now drafted an open letter to the Prime Minister raising their concerns about the Coalition’s approach to the sector.
After the 2016 election, Bill Shorten took the historic decision to create a portfolio of Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits, reflecting Labor’s deep commitment to the voluntary sector. Australia’s charities are now looking to see whether Michael Sukkar and the Turnbull Government take our charities seriously.
MONDAY, 5 JUNE 2017