Charity Regulator Safe for Now
Tuesday, 10th February 2015 at 9:28 am
The CEO of the Community Council for Australia, David Crosbie has welcomed the Social Services Minister Scott Morrison’s move away from abolishing the national charity regulator, the ACNC.
Scott Morrison signalled at the weekend that he will not make scrapping the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission a priority in his new Social Services portfolio.
“But the real challenge now is to drive the States and Territories to the table on reducing red tape and duplication,” David Crosbie said.
“The work of the ACNC has only just begun.”
The Abbott Government, under Minister Kevin Andrews, 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 of 2015.
Scott 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.
Labors Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh said: “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.”
“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 of 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.”
Labor said Morrison would have Labor’s full support if he opted to keep the Commission and give the Not for Profit sector some stability after 17 months of upheaval.
The Greens also welcomed the news that scrapping the ACNC is not on Minister Morrison’s agenda but they said they still remain wary that it has not been dropped as an issue altogether.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the party had not been directly informed by the Government of any backdown.
“The Greens have long opposed the Minister’s plan to repeal the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC) – we strongly recommend that the ACNC Repeal Bills were rejected by the Senate,” Siewert said.
“It is a relief that the Commission is safe for the time being.
“The Not for Profit sector widely supports the ACNC – any rescinding of this body would be met with extensive opposition.
“We now need to ensure that the ACNC is properly funded to do its work, we will pursue this issue.”
Read Pro Bono Australia’s feature story on the inside workings of the ACNC and an exclusive interview with ACNC Commissioner, Susan Pascoe AM by journalists Xavier Smerdon and Nadia Boyce HERE.