State NFP Gag Clauses ‘Outrageous’ - Feds
24 May 2013 at 1:51 pm
The Federal Government claims Liberal State Governments are prohibiting community and Not for Profit organisations from speaking out against their funding cuts.
The claim comes as the NSW Government followed the Queensland Government by introducing gag clauses into funding agreements with community legal centres.
The NSW Legal Assistance Services Funding Principles limited ''lobbying governments and elected officials on law reform and policy issues'' as well as ''public campaigning and advocacy, including the use of traditional and social media, participation in rallies or demonstrations for causes seeking changes to government policies or laws''.
It’s understood up to 60 community legal centres in NSW have been gagged from commenting on government funding policies.
“Gag clauses are designed to silence those who advocate on behalf of the community and those most in need,” Federal Minister for Social Inclusion, Mark Butler said.
“Under the Liberals, organisations risk losing their funding if they dare to publicly criticise the State Government – it’s simply outrageous.
"Campbell Newman has introduced gag clauses across Queensland, and gag clauses now seem to be on Premier O’Farrell’s agenda.”
The Gillard Government recently introduced the Not-for-Profit Sector Freedom to Advocate Bill 2013 to ban gag clauses in Federal Government contracts with the Not for Profit sector. The Bill passed the Senate last week, and is now before the House of Representatives.
“We want to ensure that no future Federal Government can stop groups from advocating on behalf of their community,” Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator Penny Wong, said.
In 2008, Labor removed all gag clauses from contracts imposed by the previous Howard Government.
Last week, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus wrote to the NSW Attorney-General to condemn the move.
“Any attempt by the NSW Government to gag advocacy is inimical to the freedom of political communication that is characteristic of Australia’s robust and open democracy,” he said.