‘Civil Disobedience’ Planned Over Charity Regulations
Tuesday, 9th July 2013 at 10:04 am
National Not for Profit peak body, the Community Council of Australia is threatening to launch a national ‘civil disobedience’ campaign with charities after a pushback from State Governments who are delaying the decision to align their charity regulations with the Commonwealth.
The Federal Government has pressured State Governments to bring their fundraising regulations in line with the Commonwealth to ease the burden of red tape on NFPs who fundraise on a national level or via the internet.
But at the Consumer Affairs Forum held in Parramatta last Friday, some State and Territory Consumer Affairs Ministers reportedly continued to delay the request from Federal Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury who asked they bring their fundraising regulations in line with those being set by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC).
Community Council for Australia CEO David Crosbie said charities were facing a “dog’s breakfast” of regulations which was making it difficult for charities to fundraise nationally and now they were faced with no choice other than to disobey the States by complying only with the Commonwealth regulations.
“Why should we comply with these ridiculous impositions?” he said.
“If States and Territories are not going to take our concerns seriously what option do we have?
“It is like trying to achieve free trade at the beginning of the 20th century when Federation was so challenging to State power – the question is what purpose do these charity barriers serve other than to make extra work for charities?
“If this was any other industry we would have addressed this issue over a decade ago.
“The sector is rightly angry that these Governments talk about supporting charities while very deliberately blocking reform and imposing more red tape and compliance on the sector for no good purpose.
“Every government across Australia says they want to free the charities and Not for Profit sector from needless red tape, duplication and compliance costs [but] unfortunately most State and Territory governments have very poor form in this area – they back off when asked to walk the talk,” he said.
South Australia and Tasmania has already committed to the action.
The Victorian Government was reportedly the strongest voice in the pushback on Friday.
But a spokesperson for Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Heidi Victoria said Consumer Affairs Victoria had always- and continued- to support national reform of fundraising regulation.
“A fundraising working group, comprised of senior officials from all State and Territory fundraising regulators, together with the Commonwealth, has already done considerable work in this area,” the Victorian spokesperson said.
“The Commonwealth is leading this work.
“Victoria together with other states agreed [on Friday] that work on national fundraising reforms should continue and that options for reform be presented to the next Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs (CAF) Meeting.”
The spokesperson said the Consumer Affairs Forum did not consider any specific reform proposals.
“It is important that all potential options for reforms are properly explored to make sure a nationally consistent approach is responsive to the needs of all states.”
World Vision CEO and Chair of Community Council of Australia Tim Costello said it was time for all Governments to support “real reforms” of the sector.
“Fundraising regulation is complex and the variations serve no useful purpose. We want charities to be able to get on with what they do best, not get bogged down in unnecessary red tape,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Federal Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said consumer affairs Ministers agreed that reform options will be brought to the next Ministerial Council.
"This is a welcome step and the Commonwealth Government will continue to push for a more sensible and consistent approach to the regulation of charitable fundraising," the spokesperson said.