ACNC Says It's Business As Usual
Tuesday, 24th September 2013 at 10:50 am
The charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, says it’s business as usual since the new Government was sworn in last week despite not meeting the new Minister responsible for its operations.
The ACNC Commissioner, Susan Pascoe AM said in a statement to the sector that “to paraphrase the 1897 statement about Mark Twain in the New York Journal, reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated”.
“The ACNC is very much alive and implementing its statutory obligations,” she said.
The statement comes after much discussion during the election campaign about the future of the ACNC under a Coalition Government which said it would dismantle the regulator and replace it with an information agency.
“The ACNC was created by an Act of Parliament, and unless and until that Act is amended or repealed, the Commissioner is expected to implement the Act,” Pascoe said.
“What this means is that the ACNC continues to deliver on its statutory responsibilities such as registration; reporting, advice and guidance. We will continue our work on reducing red tape for the sector, in keeping with the third object in the ACNC Act.
“Charities will continue to meet their obligations such as completing the Annual Information Statement and notifying the ACNC of any significant changes.
“The ACNC congratulates its new Minister, the Assistant Treasurer Senator Arthur Sinodinos AO, and looks forward to working with him.
“I am looking forward to meeting the Minister and learning of the Government’s plans for the regulation of charities. This will also provide the opportunity to explain the work of the ACNC.”
Already the Abbott Government has announced that the Social Inclusion Unit and the Office for the Not-for-Profit Sector have been disbanded.
Susan Pascoe said that during the Caretaker Conventions during an election period the ACNC was prevented from making statements that could be construed to be partisan in any way.
“Hence, the ACNC has stood by and observed some myths and misconceptions emerge. Now that the government is installed we are in a position to provide clarification on a few of these matters,” she said.
“A story circulated recently that the ACNC and the ATO have been engaged in a battle. It must have been a very meek affair as neither party is aware we have been at war! In fact the ACNC and ATO have a very constructive relationship. It is formalised in a MoU and maintained with ongoing communication and regular meetings. This approach has resulted in a number of efficiencies and improvements, most notably improved service standards for the registration of charities.
“Another assertion has been made that the ACNC missed an opportunity to gather data from Government, meaning charities were being asked to provide duplicative data for the 2013 Annual Information Statement. This is incorrect.
Pascoe said the ACNC had engaged in an extensive data matching exercise with relevant government departments and agencies and found that data could not be gathered in this way primarily, because not all charities deliver services or receive grants from government.
“This left incomplete data sets, with existing inventories such as ATO charity data unviable, as it requires updating,” she said.
“A third misconception is that the ACNC is unduly focussed on compliance matters. In fact less than 10 per cent of our staff are currently involved in this work with the majority dealing with the registration of new charities and providing advice, support and guidance to existing charities.
“As at the end of August, the number of open cases under review with the ACNC was 0.062 percent of registered charities. As our forthcoming Annual Report will illustrate, the incidence of serious complaints is small, and the sector deserves its reputation as one of integrity and proficiency.”