Historic Day for Establishment of Charity Regulator
23 August 2012 at 12:55 pm
An historic day for the Not for Profit sector as the Legislation to establish Australia’s first charity regulator, the ACNC, is introduced into Federal Parliament.
The Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury presented the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Bill 2012 including the Tax Laws Amendment Bill providing Special Conditions for Not-for-profit Concessions into the House of Representatives today.
In his Second Reading Speech, Bradbury said the introduction of the Bill represented a significant milestone in delivering reforms that will strengthen and support the Not for Profit sector.
He said the Sector is currently subject to overlapping, inconsistent and duplicative regulatory and reporting arrangements.
“The lack of an independent national regulator within Government, with a dedicated focus on the particular needs of the sector, has hindered and held back the implementation of more streamlined regulatory arrangements across Australia,” he said.
“This Bill establishes a national framework for regulation of the NFP sector. Initially the ACNC will focus on regulating charities only; however, in the future the regulatory framework will be able to be extended to all NFP entities.”
Bradbury told Parliament the regulatory approach of the ACNC will be proportional to size and risk in order to minimise regulatory duplication and compliance costs.
“The Bill also establishes a publicly available, online information Register that contains details of entities registered with the ACNC. This Register can be easily accessed by members of the public, including by donors and by volunteers. The public will be able to use the Register as a source of reliable information, giving them confidence in their decisions to donate to, or volunteer for, a registered charity.
“The ACNC will work to provide education and guidance to the sector to assist in their participation in the national regulatory framework. Likewise, the ACNC will play a key role in providing information and education to the public about the sector and how it is regulated. The educational role of the ACNC will help to improve public understanding of, and engagement with, the important work of the sector,” he said.
“The ACNC Bill has three objects. Its first object is to maintain, protect and enhance public trust and confidence in the NFP sector. Its second object is to support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative NFP sector. The third object underlines the important role that the ACNC will have to promote the reduction of unnecessary regulatory obligations on the NFP sector.”
Bradbury told Parliament that a new clause has been added in the Bill’s objects, to make clear the important role the ACNC will have in promoting the reduction of regulatory burden.
“This will be achieved in part through initiatives such as the Charity Passport and the development of a “report-once, use-often” reporting framework, and through the ACNC Commissioner working and cooperating with other Government agencies.
“Improvements have been made to ensure that registered entities have the opportunity to respond to compliance concerns, including the introduction of a requirement to issue ‘show cause’ notices unless the ACNC Commissioner, considering a number of factors, believes that immediate enforcement action is necessary.
“A requirement has been introduced to provide that the ACNC Commissioner must not publish details of enforcement action on the Register for a period of time after the action is taken, unless it is in the public interest to do so earlier. This provides time for a registered entity to respond before such information is made publicly available. Such information entered on the Register will be removed after five years, unless the public interest requires that it be retained.
Another new regulatory power has been included in the Bill, to provide that the ACNC Commissioner must not include certain information on the Register in prescribed circumstances.
“The Government intends to use this power to make regulations to protect the privacy of private donors, such as those who maintain a private ancillary fund. The Government strongly supports the role and importance of philanthropy in the Australian community, and will ensure that the ACNC provides a supportive framework for the important contribution of philanthropists.”
The Government also introduced the Tax Laws Amendment (Special Conditions for Not-for-profit Concessions) Bill 2012. This Bill re-states the 'in Australia' special conditions for income tax exempt entities, and codifies the 'in Australia' special conditions for deductible gift recipients.