Final Days of Parliament Critical for NFP Reform
25 June 2013 at 12:38 pm
The final week of Federal Parliament is set to be a critical one in terms of reform of the Australian Not for Profit sector.
The Definition of Charity legislation (Charities Bill) is set to pass through the Senate and the Gillard Government is also expected to introduce a formal Motion of Approval of the Governance Standards under the statutory obligations of the new charity regulator, in the final parliamentary sittings days.
The Chair of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and Charities Inquiry Productivity Commissioner, Robert Fitzgerald has urged the Not for Profit sector to get behind the framework of the ACNC and the ongoing reform process.
Fitzgerald says while the ACNC is just five months old it has made "remarkable progress" particularly in the area of governance standards that are positive and critical for the sector.
“The sector needs to get behind the ACNC to ensure that what they have long fought for is achieved," he said.
“The ACNC has delivered on its objectives so far, absolutely providing much greater support for the sector and showing that red tape can be reduced over time.”
Robert Fitzgerald was announced Chair of the ACNC Advisory Board at the Commission’s launch in December 2012. Fitzgerald was presiding Commissioner of the Productivity Commission’s 2010 report Contribution of the Not for Profit Sector.
“I appreciate that some reform measures vary in importance according to the size and nature of some charities. Some embrace them easily and others take some time to adapt," he said.
“However, the sector and the community will be much stronger for having the ACNC.
“The current reform process, which includes the setting up of the ACNC, is the result of three significant inquiries dating back to 1995 which had strong support from the sector.
“The ACNC is a critical element in the current regulatory reforms and in future reforms including the long term reduction in red tape.
“Unless this reform continues there will be nine jurisdictions entrenched forever,” Fitzgerald warned. The sector knows that it needs reform and it must maintain its support for the ACNC.”
The ACNC is expected to release a six month Progress Report in July.
So far the ACNC says it has engaged with more than 4000 key people in the charity sector during information and consultation sessions in 21 cities and regional centres across Australia since it opened its doors in December 2012. Some 618 charities have formally registered with the regulator.
There are just three sitting days left of the current Federal Parliament before the Federal Election.
The Liberal Coalition confirmed during the Charity Bill debate that it would dismantle the ACNC and repeal the Definition of Charity if it gains office in September.
The ACNC was set up with the support of the Australian Greens. Senator Rachel Siewert, the Australian Greens spokesperson on Families and Community Services says the party will support the Charity Definition but no decision has been made on the Governance Standards.
See Pro Bono Australia’s full coverage of the establishment of the ACNC for more information.