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Scrapping ACNC Will “Break Shackles of Red Tape” - Andrews

23 October 2014 at 11:32 am
Lina Caneva
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has declared that abolishing the national charity regulator will “break the shackles of red tape around the ankles” of Not for Profits in Australia.

Lina Caneva | 23 October 2014 at 11:32 am


Scrapping ACNC Will “Break Shackles of Red Tape” - Andrews
23 October 2014 at 11:32 am

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has declared that abolishing the national charity regulator will “break the shackles of red tape around the ankles” of Not for Profits in Australia.

Asked by fellow Liberal Party politician Craig Laundy during Question Time in Parliament yesterday to outline how cutting red tape and regulation would benefit the charity sector, Andrews said that scrapping the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) would allow charities to better serve Australia.

“We have abolished the national gambling regulator, we proposed to abolish the charities commission,” Andrews said.

“So whether it is in aged care or family services or charities, we want to break the shackles of red tape around the ankles of these agencies.

“We want to allow them to do what they do best, not filling in forms and completing red tape but serving the people of Australia.”

Andrews also pointed to the removal of Federal certification requirements of aged care providers as a victory for the Government.

“This was building requirements which actually duplicated what was already required at a municipal and state and territory level, so this was actually triplicating regulatory requirements which we removed,” he said.

“It was common sense to remove those requirements, and the consequence of that is savings of millions of dollars over time to the aged care sector and of course that’s a win-win because it’s a saving for the aged care sector, but that in turn is a saving for the residents of aged care homes right throughout Australia.”

ACNC Commissioner Susan Pascoe spoke at a Senate Estimates Committee hearing where it was revealed the regulator is saving Australian charities $120 million a year by reducing compliance costs.

"If they had to self-report, not only do you have to add the cost of that reporting, but only 7 per cent of charities have a website," Pascoe said.

"So there would be a significant cost to them financially, and then the administration of a website, the IT systems required and the in-house expertise in small volunteered based organisations would be considerable…in the consultation sessions we have done there is a generalised fear amongst the small charities that this impost could be coming."

CEO of Not for Profit peak body the Community Council for Australia, David Crosbie, said abolishing the ACNC would have almost no impact on red tape.

“The ACNC contributes less than 1% of red tape imposed on the sector,” Crosbie said.  

“The Department that Minister Andrews is responsible for is now imposing massive levels of additional administrative burdens on many charities and not-for-profits as a consequence of ongoing funding uncertainty.

“At the same time as charities and not-for-profits are being asked to invest in themselves and work towards a longer term future, some government departments are providing less than two months’ notice about current and future funding.  

“Even those who do not understand the pressures on charities and not-for-profits recognise that trying to run any agency, provide services, employ staff, maintain properties and infrastructure all on two months’ notice creates massive amounts of additional work.”  

The Greens spokesperson on family and community, Rachel Siewert, said that Senate Estimates had confirmed reports that the majority of red tape faced by Australia’s not for profit sector is caused by the Government itself.

“The Federal Government tries to paint the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission as a burden on the sector, but the clear reality is that Government grants acquittal processes cause the most red tape,” Siewert said.

“Although this isn't all bad, as accountability is important, as are some of the other requirements of Government processes, steps should be taken to lessen the burden on the sector.

“Estimates hearings have confirmed the findings of Ernst & Young’s Commonwealth Regulatory and Reporting Burdens research report, which undertook case studies of 15 charities and found that the average annual burden imposed by ACNC reporting obligations was just 0.1% per cent of total annual burden faced by operators, costing about $150 a year.

“By comparison, the burden of reporting to the Commonwealth Government during the 2012/13 financial year was $18,000 for small charities and $235,000 for large ones.

"It is ridiculous for the Government to continue to say the ACNC causes red tape when clearly it doesn't and is helping charities."

Crosbie said supporting the national charity regulator would do more for the sector than scrapping it.

“If the government is genuinely interested in reducing red tape, it would be supporting the ACNC in creating a one stop shop charity register and charity passport to end much of the duplication,” he said.

“If it wants to free up the sector, the government needs to focus on its own performance and develop a much more efficient, transparent and effective grant administration processes.     

“If it is genuinely interested in a stronger sector, the government would put aside its predetermined agenda and work constructively with the sector to achieve better outcomes for the communities we all serve."

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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