NFP Consultation Missing from ACNC Repeal
29 April 2014 at 11:14 am
The repeal of the charity regulator, the ACNC is being imposed with no meaningful consultation with the Not for Profit sector, according to a submission being finalised by Not for Profit peak body, the Community Council for Australia.
The draft submission, in response to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Repeal Bill 2014 inquiry, will be finalised and sent to Senate by the May 2 deadline.
The CCA submission joins a growing number of submissions to the Senate inquiry into legislation to repeal the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) which have condemned the proposed legislation and argued that the Australian Taxation Office is not fit to regulate the sector.
As previously reported by Pro Bono Australia News, legislation to abolish the ACNC was referred to the Economics Legislation Committee for inquiry in late March.
The CCA Draft Submission says the Government’s Bill to abolish the ACNC is dismissive of the extensive consultations undertaken and feedback provided by the Not for Profit sector over many years.
It says the CCA strongly supports the continuation of the ACNC and opposes the repeal Bill.
“Repealing the ACNC is a retrograde step that can only serve the agenda of a vocal minority opposed to transparency. It is not good policy, as numerous well informed and supported inquiries and reviews have found,” CCA CEO David Crosbie wrote in the draft.
“It is not good practice, as the reality of charities everyday having to jump through different shaped compliance hoops clearly demonstrates, and, it is not good in terms of government relations with a charity sector it claims to support and want to strengthen.
“If the government is serious about wanting a stronger civil society, if it wants to build flourishing communities, it needs to work with the charities sector and retain the ACNC.
“CCA has been surprised by the level of support the ACNC has attracted from the sector it has been established to regulate. While there is a small minority of vocal detractors with their own particular issues, it seems almost unprecedented that a regulator would attract such strong support from those it regulates.
“In response to CCA member concerns about the future of the ACNC, CCA prepared a joint letter to the Prime Minister signed by over fifty leading charities and specialist charity law and tax experts (see attached). While this letter was publicly dismissed by some in government on the grounds that it had only fifty signatures, it is important to emphasize that the open letter was never intended as a petition (how many signed was not the focus), but as a representative letter signed by a cross section of leading charities and academics specializing in charity law and taxation to indicate the breadth of support for the ACNC.
“The suggestion that many in the charities sector oppose the ACNC lacks credibility given the extensive history of consultation with the sector and more recent surveys of sector views. In particular, the last three major surveys on this issue involving thousands of respondents across our sector have found: The submission points to the Pro Bono Australia survey 15 August 2013 which found 81 per cent support for the ACNC and only 6 per cent supporting ATO regulation.
“It is difficult to see how anyone can seriously argue that the charities sector does not need a dedicated independent regulator to overcome the myriad of compliance and regulatory imposts, but clearly there is some opposition,” the submission said.
“While CCA is not interested in specifically addressing all the views expressed in the Explanatory Memorandum associated with the ACNC Repeal Bill (EM), CCA feels it is important to highlight a number of areas where the EM is clearly misleading.
“The EM refers to the level of support for dismantling the ACNC quoting a Centre for Independent Studies report and the views of one organisation that has been equivocal in its support for the ACNC. It is wrong that an EM chooses to ignore the overwhelming evidence of strong support for the ACNC, both currently and in previous inquiries and reviews.
“Other arguments against the ACNC implied in the EM suggest that it is better to have multiple regulators than to have one. CCA cannot understand how anyone can argue that it is better to provide information multiple times in multiple formats that can be stored in multiple places largely unused and unavailable.
“Having one regulator for the charities sector reduces red tape, while returning to multiple regulators represents an increase in red tape,” it said.
Now available on the Senate inquiry’s online portal, the submissions come from a broad cross-section of organisations and individuals, including legal peak bodies, a grants foundation, a social impact analyst, a small charity, a finance and compliance consultancy, and individual community members.