No Consultation on ACNC Abolition – Opposition
Friday, 28th February 2014 at 12:17 pm
Senate Estimates hearings this week confirm that the Abbott Government’s promise to consult charities about its plan to abolish the charities regulator is hollow, says Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh.
“Minister Kevin Andrews promised charities a discussion paper on the future of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission by the end of January and a formal consultation process beginning this month.
“It’s the end of February and nothing has happened,” Leigh said. “The Minister has stopped listening and does not care to listen.
“A survey of the charitable sector found that four in five people support the ACNC. Yet those members of the sector that have written to Minister Andrews supporting the ACNC have been given short shrift.
“Morale among the ACNC’s highly specialised and committed staff is suffering.”
Last week the Australian Tax Office wrote to ACNC staff asking for expressions of interest in voluntary redundancies.
The Senate Economics Committee was told of a higher than usual attrition rate and how uncertainty about the ACNC’s future is impacting its 100 staff.
Under questioning from Senator Louise Pratt about the loss of ACNC staff in recent times, the ACNC’s Assistant Commissioner for Charities Services, David Locke said that obviously there was uncertainty regarding the future of the agency, which was unsettling and difficult for staff.
“The Committee also heard that the ATO is preparing to transition for the axing of the ACNC before any repeal legislation and take over some of the regulator functions of the ACNC,” Leigh said.
“This is a slap in the face for thousands of Australian charities that do not want the ATO to resume responsibility for the sector.
“It is astonishing that this Government should talk about the need for transparency and accountability and yet seeks to abolish a first-rate agency that supports public confidence in the integrity of charities.”
Read Pro Bono Australia’s earlier story on the Senate hearing here.