Abolition of Charity Regulator Low Priority - Morrison
7 February 2015 at 10:13 am
Social Services Minister Scott Morrison has given his first indication that the Coalition has backed away from abolishing the national charity regulator, the ACNC.
A report by Fairfax Media said Scott Morrison has signalled that he will not make scrapping the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission a priority in his new Social Services portfolio.
The Federal Labor Party has responded saying the move is the first indication that Morrison has walking away from his predecessor, Kevin Andrew’s plan to abolish it altogether.
The Abbott Government had previously committed to axing the Commission, which was set up by Labor in 2012 to streamline charity regulation, and the Repeal Bills were due to return to Parliament for debate in the first sittings in 2015.
Morrison is reported as saying: “I have advised key stakeholders in this area I have no immediate plans to be progressing that issue while I focus on higher order priorities.”
The apparent backdown comes just days after the Minister announced the end to the Government-funded relationship counselling trial initiated by Kevin Andrews with a cost saving of $17 million.
“Under former Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews, Australia’s charities endured months of uncertainty as the minister pushed through a Senate inquiry and endless consultations on what should replace the commission,” Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh said.
“Despite his best efforts to undermine the charities regulator, every consultation, study and report found the same thing: charities want to keep the commission.
“Pro Bono Australia’s surveys of charities show that four out of five support the charities commission, and virtually none like the idea of handing charities regulation back to the tax office.
“Advocates such as World Vision’s Tim Costello and David Crosbie from the Community Council for Australia have been particularly vocal about the need to keep the charities regulator.
“Last year, they joined more than 40 major Australian charities – including the RSPCA, Lifeline and Volunteering Australia – in writing an open letter to the Prime Minister which called for the commission to be retained.
“Scott Morrison’s comments signal a welcome change of tack which acknowledges his predecessor got in wrong in working to abolish the commission.
“But charities need more than signs and signals – they need certainty. So like Kevin Andrews’ futile relationship vouchers scheme, this is another social services policy the Government should officially drop.”
The Labor Opposition said Minister Morrison would have Labor’s full support if he opts to keep the Commission and give the Not for Profit sector some stability after 17 months of upheaval.
The CEO of the Community Council for Australia, David Crosbie said the Government move was welcome news.
“But the real challenge now is to drive the States and Territories to the table on reducing red tape and duplication.
“The work of the ACNC has only just begun," he said.