HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 18 OCTOBER 2021
Around Easter, Catholic church members often hold a walk in support of refugees. Yet as St Vincent de Paul head Toby O’Connor has pointed out, under the government's latest attack on charities if some of those people were blocking a public area and if they failed to move on under direction then any charity that is associated with that march could be disqualified. The most anti-charity government in Australian history is attempting to silence charitable advocacy in measures that the Reverend Tim Costello has compared to Putin's Russia and which Australian Council for International Development CEO Mark Purcell has likened to the Burmese junta.
This new measure would give charities commissioner, Gary Johns - who once compared Indigenous women to 'cash cows' - new powers to deregister charities. It's so extreme that a unanimous Senate committee report, chaired by Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, has recommended that parliament disallow the proposed regulation. Opponents of this latest attack on charities include ANTaR; the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services; the Australian Institute of Company Directors; Anglicare; and UnitingCare.
Civil society, religious charities and churches should be able to speak up for their values. Community advocacy and public protests are a valuable part of a healthy democracy, and governments must protect that right — not stifle it. The war on charities must end. The coalition must withdraw this nasty attack on Australian charities.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra