ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES
MEMBER FOR FENNER
SENATOR CATRYNA BILYK
SENATOR FOR TASMANIA
TWO YEARS TO WRITE ONE-PAGE RESPONSE AN INSULT TO CHARITIES
Australia’s charities have been left with little more than buck passing from the Federal Government after Scott Morrison’s handpicked minister took two years to respond to a Senate inquiry on charity fundraising.
Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century, Senator Catryna Bilyk, labelled the delay pathetic after the response was tabled in Parliament yesterday.
“It has taken two years for the Assistant Minister, Senator Zed Seselja, to produce a one-page response to the inquiry’s report,” Senator Bilyk said.
“That is pathetic, and an insult to the charities who collectively spent hundreds of hours writing submissions and giving spoken evidence to the inquiry.”
In August this year, the New South Wales Government released a discussion paper with a model for cross-border recognition of charitable fundraisers.
“I welcome the release of the New South Wales Government’s discussion paper, but for harmonisation of charity fundraising laws to be successful it needs Federal leadership,” Senator Bilyk said.
“I have little faith that Minister Seselja can provide this leadership when for the past two years he has been asleep at the wheel.
Senator Bilyk said that the Government was crab-walking away from the commitment made two years ago, in response to the five-year review of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, to address charity fundraising law reform.
“While many charities expected the Morrison Government to lead on this issue, their statement in the inquiry response that they will merely ‘support the efforts of states and territories to harmonise charitable fundraising laws’ is a backdown on their previous commitment,” Senator Bilyk said.
Harmonising fundraising laws has also been recommended by the Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements and the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission’s not-for-profit working group, the latter stating that “the different fundraising requirements are such a huge burden on charities, particularly the smaller ones”.
Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities, Andrew Leigh MP, said the Morrison Government was passing the buck on an issue that was costing the sector more than a million dollars a month.
“Each year that goes by without a solution to the duplication of charity fundraising laws is costing charities $15 million,” he said,
“That’s money, generously donated by Australians, being eaten up by red tape which should be going to the important social, economic, environmental and animal welfare causes that charities and not-for-profits champion.”
Charities across Australia are already struggling with increasing demand and dwindling resources as they step up to help people falling through the gaps left by the Morrison Government. Fixing outdated fundraising laws would make a huge difference in the lives of the more than one million people who work in the charitable sector, as well as those who need their support.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.