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Charities beg to save their regulator from the chop

Date

Gareth Hutchens, Judith Ireland

World Vision chief executive Tim Costello says that if the government got rid of the ACNC there would be more red tape, not less.

World Vision chief executive Tim Costello says that if the government got rid of the ACNC there would be more red tape, not less.

The heads of Australia's biggest charities – including Father Chris Riley, Tim Costello and Dr Caroline Lambert — have written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott pleading with him to not shut down the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission.

The RSPCA, Wesley Mission Victoria, Lifeline and the Myer Family Company are among those who say they "completely oppose" the government's plan.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister – which 40 organisations have signed — they say charities will have to deal with more red tape if the commission is shut down, contrary to the government's intentions.

"The ACNC has done what few new regulators achieve – gained widespread support across the sector it is regulating," the letter says.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission was established in 2012 following a Productivity Commission review of the not-for-profit sector. The agency is Australia's first national charities regulator, with responsibility for deciding which organisations are considered charities.

The Australian Taxation Office remains responsible for deciding an organisation's eligibility for tax concessions, but not-for-profits cannot receive charity tax concessions from the ATO unless they are registered with the ACNC.

The ACNC was designed to become a "one-stop shop" for charities and to help reduce regulatory burden on the sector.

But the Abbott government promised before the September election to shut down the commission, with federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews saying the commission imposes an "unnecessary and ponderous compliance burden on the sector."

An ACNC Repeal Bill will be presented to Parliament this week.

World Vision chief executive Tim Costello says that if the government got rid of the ACNC there would be more red tape, not less.

He told Fairfax Media he thought the government would also discover it needed to "reinvent something that's pretty much the same thing" as the Charities Commission.

"The charity sector isn't just a few amateurs with goodwill, who don't now need transparency and appropriate regulation. It's $100 billion, 5 per cent of GDP, it's five million volunteers," he said.

Mr Costello said the ACNC also boosted confidence in the not-for-profit sector and most importantly, kept regulation of the sector out of the hands of the Australian Taxation Office.

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24 comments

  • Social consciousness isn't in this rabble's thought process, they are in a race to the bottom and the only outcome is 'Surplus". This meets with their sneering slogan orientated psyche, Abbott and Hockey will lead us into recession when the rest of the world is coming out of one. We are the oh so clever country and have forgotten that Howard was backed up with an unprecedented mining boom.

    Commenter
    Get Real
    Date and time
    March 19, 2014, 7:14AM
    • @Get Real:
      We are now engaged in the long march backwards. Mean, bitter and twisted this government will do everything in its power to replicate Australia as it was, not as it should be. What drives this mob is one of the great political questions of the 20th century. But wait, perhaps a simple reminder that we are now in the 21st century might suffice.

      Commenter
      JohnC
      Location
      Gosford NSW
      Date and time
      March 19, 2014, 9:26AM
    • As a regular donator to a number of charities, I ALWAYS check how much is being spent of fundraising and admin - and without this reporting process, I would have no way of doing so.

      Why does the Catholic Church want to hide how much actually goes to the needy vs the church hierarchy?

      What are they hiding?

      Commenter
      Consideredview
      Location
      Western Australia
      Date and time
      March 19, 2014, 1:11PM
  • You left out that one of the main people against the ACNC, has been George Pell and his Catholic Church, a man who seems to have the ear of the PM... is not one of the roles of the ACNC being that it would open up the books to show how much of the money that is donated to not-for-profits/charities go towards the needy and not spent of things that the donating public would not be too happy about...

    Commenter
    Racebreed
    Date and time
    March 19, 2014, 7:15AM
    • The problem is that CONservative politics view a country's economy as a business. Countries, and there for the society within it, are not businesses and/or employees. We should be viewed more like a family/extended family, where those who need support are afforded different attention to those who are stronger/more self-reliant, but the overall objective is that we try to create a quality of life for all that is satisfying and just.

      Commenter
      OMG
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      March 19, 2014, 8:18AM
      • This is just another example of Abbott's obsessive behavior and determination to unwind all the achievements of the Labor government, good, bad or otherwise. He is truly dangerous.

        Commenter
        The Real Deal
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        March 19, 2014, 8:27AM
        • Actually, charities and other 'not for profit' bodies are already regulated by State Attorneys General and other officials, who have statutory powers to enquire into them and take them to Court to prevent abuses like misuse of funds. They also have to justify their charitable purposes to the Australian Taxation Office if they want donations to them to be tax deductible. I am on the board of a small charity which works with homeless people in central Melbourne. The last thing that small charities with volunteer boards and few (if any) paid employees need is another layer of Government regulation and a need to report to Canberra. Unlike the large charities, we do not have the resources to employ professional staff to comply with further regulatory requirements. We "amateurs with goodwill" would prefer to get on with helping people. We have numerous problems in our work, but lack of Government regulation is not one of them.

          Commenter
          Michael Gronow
          Location
          Melbourne
          Date and time
          March 19, 2014, 8:48AM
          • might be fine for small local charities to not need the board - but larger charitities who provide services accross the country find it easier if there is only one set of rules to deal with accross the country.

            Commenter
            Jess
            Location
            here
            Date and time
            March 19, 2014, 12:32PM
          • Michael Gronow,

            With literally thousands of charities in existence, the Abbott government "reforms" actually make me less likely to donate to small, unknown charities.

            If I've never heard of your charity, it would be comforting to have an independent source verifying how many cents in the dollar your charity spends on administration costs, how much actually goes to beneficiaries, and what you actually spend it on.

            And what your charity does that other established charities don't.

            I'm not going to place blind faith in being directed to a website that can be set up by anyone.

            There are already too many dodgy dealings with pokies clubs claiming "community benefit" when they are not really contributing to the community.

            Community banks contributing funds to well off private schools.

            And laughably, employer unions - WA Chamber of Commerce, and possibly VECCI being granted "charity" status.

            There is also the dodgy intersection and shady world of political donations and "charity".

            The Liberals already watered down disclosure of political donations, and now their dodgy dealings are completed by weakening disclosure of charity operations.

            No thanks.

            Commenter
            Tristan
            Location
            Melbourne
            Date and time
            March 19, 2014, 1:06PM
        • At one stage of my life I was involved with the audit of charities , I gave it up as I realised that most charities and green organisations should be shut down as they exist only for the benefit of the staff.

          Commenter
          boof
          Date and time
          March 19, 2014, 8:52AM

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