UPDATE: Vote for ACNC’s Future Deadlocked
Thursday, 16th October 2014 at 10:47 am
A balance-of-power Senator has declared that he will vote against abolishing the ACNC, cancelling out one of his fellow crossbenchers votes.
Independent Senator John Madigan said that he found Federal Government plans to scrap the national charity regulator “bewildering”.
It comes as a spokesperson for crossbench Senator David Leyonhjelm from the Liberal Democratic Party told Pro Bono Australia News he does not support the ACNC.
A Bill to repeal the ACNC is currently before the Senate and is due to be debated in the final session before Christmas.
The abolition of the regulator was delayed in March this year after the Greens forced it to be referred to the Economics Legislation Committee for inquiry, allowing the ACNC to plead its case for survival.
With Labor and the Greens locked in a stalemate with the Coalition, it is likely that the five crossbench Senators and the Palmer United Party Senators will make the deciding votes on the ACNC’s future.
Senator Madigan told Pro Bono Australia News he believed the ACNC served an important role.
“The Abbott Government’s plan to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission is bewildering,” Senator Madigan said.
“People need reassurance that when they donate to a charity it’s tax-exempt status is both appropriate and an accurate reflection of what they do. The ACNC provides an easy online service that does this.
“The ACNC provides a stamp of approval to legitimate charities and supports trust in the not-for-profit sector.
“I have heard commentary from charities that the ACNC has a pro-active and helpful attitude to its charity clients.
“I will not be voting for its abolition.”
Earlier a spokesperson for Senator Leyonhjelm said he did not think that the ACNC was a good idea.
“Senator Leyonhjelm is inclined to support the abolition of the ACNC,” the spokesperson said.
“While Senator Leyonhjelm is inclined to support the intent of the legislation, there are some issues with the process being followed by the Government.
“The Liberal Democrats believe that the regulation of charities is not necessary beyond tax regulation by the ATO and company regulation by ASIC – donors can make their own choices about who to support.
“The Liberal Democrats also believe in decentralised power – it was wrong to attempt to reduce the regulatory burden at the State level through a Commonwealth takeover.”
The spokesperson said that further discussions may be required with the Government about the process being followed before the Bill comes to a vote, and that there had been no discussion at all between crossbench Senators about the future of the ACNC.
In September this year Pro Bono Australia's State of the Not for Profit Sector Survey of 1250 Not for Profit leaders, volunteers and sector managers revealed that 82 per cent were in favour of keeping the regulator.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has previously been a strong advocate for retaining the ACNC, saying the sector needs more scrutiny.
Family First Senator Bob Day is the only other Senator to publicly express his views on the regulator, telling Pro Bono Australia News that he is in favour of it being abolished.
A spokesperson for the Palmer United Party Senators said their position on the issue had not yet been finalised.
Senator Ricky Muir from the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party did not respond to a request for comment.