Mixed Bag for NFPs on Red Tape Repeal Day
Tuesday, 18th March 2014 at 11:16 am
The Not for Profit sector can expect a mixed bag of changes, including legislation to abolish Australia’s charity regulator as part of the Federal Coalition Government’s Repeal Day bid to scrap more than 9000 regulations to cut red tape.
The red tape Repeal Day is scheduled for the House of Representatives on March 26 with the the omnibus bill and a series of specific deregulation bills to be introduced into Parliament on Wednesday March 19.
According to the Coalition Government, the aim of the Repeal Day is to cut $1 billion each year in red and green tape costs.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Josh Frydenberg has told a media conference that the Not for Profit sector would benefit from the Government’s deregulation agenda.
“For example, The Brotherhood of St Laurence administers a Commonwealth programme called HIPPY, which provides education for disadvantaged young people to get into school,” he said.
“It's a $100 million program, they have 75 sites around Australia. Up to now, they've had to report monthly and what we as a Government are saying is now they have to report quarterly, and they don't have to submit as much paperwork and it's estimated that that will save about half a million dollars a year.
“There are lots of other examples where the Not for Profit sector are going to benefit from our deregulation push.”
It was reported over the weekend that the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) would be included in the Repeal Day’s omnibus bill. It is also expected that the Charities Act, which was introduced on January 1, will also be included in the bill.
Community Council for Australia Chief Executive Officer David Crosbie said all charities and Not for Profits were keen to see a reduction in red tape particularly in the areas of fundraising and compliance.
“We support the Government’s agenda in that,” Crosbie said.
“However, repealing the Charities Act and the ACNC will have the opposite effect in reducing red tape, it will increase red tape and increase compliance.”
Crosbie said that if the two bills reached the senate, CCA would want a committee inquiry which would give the sector the opportunity to highlight the benefit of an independent regulator and a clear definition of charity.
“We would expect the senate to not pass any repealing of the ACNC and the Charity Act,” he said.
According to Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert the omnibus bill needs a proper review.
“Tony Abbott and the Coalition are showing deep disrespect to the community sector by trying to repeal the ACNC, despite its broad support,” Senator Siewert said.
"I am very concerned about the lack of information and consultation surrounding this entire process. The Abbott Government is simply creating uncertainty and confusion.
“It is misleading for the government to treat the repeal of the ACNC as an exercise in red tape reduction. Any repeal of the ACNC will make things more complicated for the sector, who are already stretched beyond their means.
“Abolishing the commission means handing assessment and regulation of the Not for Profit sector back to the ATO, an organisation which is ill-equipped for the task and lacks important transparency. This creates more confusion and bureaucracy and makes it harder for charitable organisations to play a critical role in our society.
"The Not for Profit sector is on the front line when it comes to dealing with the impacts of social policies, such as cuts to single parent payments and the ongoing inadequacy of Newstart. Demand for support will no doubt increase as a result of government cuts through the Commission of Audit or welfare review processes.
"The Greens will oppose the Government's reckless attempts to destabilise Australia's vital not for profit sector,” she said.
Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh said the ACNC faces the chopping block despite the fact that it has a red tape reduction directorate.
“It was set up with the aim of reducing duplication for charities across states and federal,” he said.
“And the Charities and Not-for-profits Commission is set up in order to protect people who donate to charity, to make sure that they are not ripped off by scammers.
“If the ACNC is removed then Australian charitable donors and good charities – who are the vast majority of charities – will be placed at risk.”
To view the Federal Government’s deregulation plan, visit http://cuttingredtape.gov.au/