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Staff Reporter

Tuesday, 10th December 2013 at 11:02 am

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ACNC Replacement Unveiled

By Staff Reporter,

Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has revealed his plans for the Centre for Excellence that will replace the outgoing Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

According to a spokesperson for Minister Andrews, the Centre for Excellence would act as an advocate for the sector, be a leader in innovative and provide education, training and development opportunities to the sector.

The revelation comes while Not for Profit leaders are in Canberra challenging changes to the Social Services Legislation which includes amendments to areas including the ACNC and a delay in the introduction of the new charity definition.

“In keeping with our commitment to reduce red tape on the Not for Profit sector, and following extensive consultation with charities and other stakeholders,  the Government has decided to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission and replace it with a smaller sector-focussed Centre for Excellence,” the spokesperson told Pro Bono Australia News.

“The Centre for Excellence would support the sector and ultimately have its ownership transferred to the sector itself.

“The previous Labor government’s Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission increased the red-tape on civil society and made life harder, not easier for the sector.

“No evidence has been provided to justify establishing such a big regulatory structure with such extensive enforcement powers.

“This Government believes that the role of government is to support civil society, not to control it or bind it in more red tape.”

In Parliament last week, Andrews said that the Government was committed to consulting with the sector on abolishing the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and establishing a Centre for Excellence and a possible national register of charities.

However no structured consultation period has been outlined by the Minister’s office instead, the Minister was engaging with charities and other stakeholders “frequently”.

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert had said that in recent Senate Estimates hearings, the Government confirmed that Minister Andrews had undertaken “informal consultations” about the process of repealing the ACNC, though there was no detail available as to who was consulted or what was discussed.

“I'm wary of any informal consultation process, given the fact it tends to be highly subjective and yield the answers you're looking for,” she said.

A pre-election Not for Profit survey, initiated by Pro Bono Australia and conducted by Tomorrow’s Agenda Research Institute (part of the Net Balance network)  and the Community Council for Australia, found that 81 per cent of respondents thought the establishment of the ACNC was important.

Last week, the Coalition Government also made a push for significant changes on Social Services legislation through the Senate. This included a move to delay the introduction of the new definition of charity.

Not for Profit leaders told an urgently convened Senate Committee meeting in Canberra  on Monday that the Coalition Government plans to delay the start of new charities legislation puts future planning in jeopardy.

The Charities Act 2013 defines "charity" and "charitable purpose" for the purposes of all Commonwealth legislation. The Committee was only given until December 12 to report.

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