THE WAR ON CHARITIES CONTINUES
Nearly two years after the report from the mandated five-year review of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s legislation was given to the Government – in May 2018 – the Morrison Government has finally responded.
Of the 30 recommendations, 11 have been rejected. This includes the sector’s top ask: for Commonwealth leadership to deliver a harmonised fundraising system.
Australia’s fundraising laws predate mobile phones and the internet. They require charities who raise money online to register in multiple states across Australia.
With charities all around the country pooling support from Australians across the nation, outdated fundraising laws are limiting the impact charities can have. They are making it harder for charities to do the job Australians want them to do.
In February 2019, Catryna Bilyk’s Senate Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century tabled its bipartisan report into fixing fundraising, giving the Government a two-year deadline to fix the problem. That committee estimated that outdated fundraising laws cost charities $15 million annually, or more than a million dollars a month.
This is not just a number on a page - it means real people are getting less help. Right now, there are charities supporting communities devastated by bushfires. If they Morrison Government had already acted on the sector’s concerns, they would have more money to spend on the victims who need it.
These delays are just the latest front in the Coalition’s war on charities.
Under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government, we've seen attacks on environmental charities, social services charities, and legal charities working to help the most vulnerable.
For five years, they fought to abolish the charities commission. When they couldn’t get the bill through Parliament, they chose the hours after the same sex marriage vote to appoint as its head Gary Johns, a charity critic who had previously described Indigenous women as ‘cash cows’. It is telling that the recommendations that would have provided checks and balances on Dr Johns’ powers have all been rejected by the Morrison Government.
We’ve seen proposed reforms to the electoral system that had charities at every point on the ideological spectrum protesting the Government’s plans to silence community advocacy.
We've seen two open letters to the Prime Minister from the sector, complaining about the way in which they've been treated by the six different Coalition ministers responsible for the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission.
The Coalition has repeatedly shown its disregard for our hardworking charity sector. The Morrison Government needs to end its war against charities.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.