Open Letter Last Attempt to Save ACNC
19 March 2014 at 9:14 am
On the eve of the Federal Coalition’s Parliamentary Repeal legislation being introduced into parliament, more than 40 peak bodies and Not for Profit sector leaders have put their names to an open letter to the Prime Minister in a last ditch attempt to save the charity regulator, the ACNC.
Lead by the Community Council for Australia, the open letter says the signatories want to make it very clear to the Commonwealth Government and wider community that, like most charities across Australia, they value the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission, and want to “see it continue its impressive work”.
Signatories include Peter Winneke of the Myer Family as well as other key groups including the AICD, Justice Connect , ACOSS, the Myer Foundation, RSPCA, Wesley Mission Victoria, World Vision and Lifeline.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission was established in 2012 following a Productivity Commission review of the Not for Profit sector by the former Labor Federal Government.
“This government intends to starve the ACNC of funds, close it down as soon as it can (the current Senate support the ACNC) and return the key role of determining charitable status to a Commonwealth bureaucracy – probably within the Australian Taxation Office,” the open letter said.
“This approach is, at best, an unfortunate policy for charities across Australia and our community. Red tape will continue to grow; the size of the bureaucracy will grow; services to the sector and the public will be reduced.
“The vital work of the ACNC must be maintained, for the benefit of charities, Not for Profits and the many communities they serve.
“Charities and the broader Not for Profit sector are at the heart of Australian communities. They are there in the good times and bad,” the letter said.
“The Not for Profit sector also makes a major economic contribution, employing approximately one million Australians and turning over close to $100 billion each year.
“The establishment of an independent national charities regulator was first seriously proposed through a Howard Government review of Charities in 2001, and has since been supported by many, including the Productivity Commission and three separate Senate Inquiries involving over 200 submissions and public hearings.
“In little over one year of operation, the ACNC has built a strong positive reputation by establishing the first public national register of charities, registering more than 2,600 new charities, responding to over 70,000 requests for information from charities and the broader community, investigating and resolving over 200 complaints against charities, and monitoring the extent of red tape and level of public trust and confidence in our charities.
“The ACNC has done what few new regulators achieve – gained widespread support across the sector it is regulating,” the letter said.
“Governments in Ireland and Jamaica are the latest to set up new charity regulators as part of a world-wide push to improve public transparency of the charities sector, increase giving, cut compliance costs and reduce red tape."
The CEO of the Community Council for Australia David Crosbie agreed that this was a last ditch attempt by the sector to try to save the ACNC.
“There has been very limited planning around replacing the ACNC, the Community Business Partnership or the proposed Centre of Excellence. A proposed consultation with the sector (meant to start in January) is still not approved by the Minister’s office,” Crosbie said.
“There are also many of our members and the broader sector caught up in the uncertainty of not knowing whether government funding for their programs will continue beyond June this year. "