Charity Regulator Passed in Senate
31 October 2012 at 11:59 am
The legislation to establish a national charity regulator, the ACNC has passed through the Senate with amendments from the Australian Greens.
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Bill 2012 and a related bill were approved in a Division which resulted in a 35 to 29 vote in favour of the Legislation.
The Bills will now go back to the House of Representatives for agreement to the amendments.
A move to ensure the Federal Government delivers a timely definition of charity while establishing the national charity regulator, however was defeated in the Senate.
Independent South Australian Senator, Nick Xenophon, introduced a Second Reading amendment to the ACNC (Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission) legislation currently before the Senate.
The amendment says the “Senate calls on the Government to introduce legislation detailing the definition of ‘charities’ and ‘charitable purposes’ and including a public benefit test, within 12 months of the passage of these bills.
The Federal Government has previously flagged that it will introduce a definition of a charity. However, a spokesperson for Senator Xenophon said the intention of the amendment was to highlight that a charity definition is vital for the operation of the ACNC.
The amendment was defeated on a Division.
The passage of the legislation to establish the ACNC was delayed in Parliament forcing the October 1 start date to be postponed. Committee stages of the Bills are in the Senate today, where the new amendments from the Greens are expected to be debated.
WA Greens Senator, Rachel Siewert, told the Senate that “to give the government their due, they actually listened to what the Not for Profit sector said and made some amendments” to the original draft”.
“The Bill we are now discussing with amendments is getting there. After very close consultation with the sector, I believe that, with the (Greens) amendments, it has strong support.”
The Federal Opposition has continued to oppose the legislation in the Senate. Sen Mathias Cormann told Parliament: “The coalition opposes this proposed great big new bureaucracy for charities and Not for Profits because it treats the sector as untrustworthy and the people involved in it as tainted.”
“It introduces a new regime of red tape for the Not for Profit sector and it will hinder the activities of charities and Not for Profits, and it will discourage involvement from the community in our charities and Not for Profits.
However, the Assistant Federal Treasurer David Bradbury said the passage of the legislation was an historic day for Australia’s hard-working charities and NFP sector.
“This is about cutting down on red tape for charities and supporting public confidence in the sector."
The Government says the start date for the ACNC will be announced in the coming weeks.