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Transparency and Merit in the Hunt to Replace Pascoe as ACNC Head

7 June 2017 at 4:36 pm
Wendy Williams
The federal government is set to undertake an “an open and transparent merit-based selection process” to find a new commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

Wendy Williams | 7 June 2017 at 4:36 pm


Transparency and Merit in the Hunt to Replace Pascoe as ACNC Head
7 June 2017 at 4:36 pm

The federal government is set to undertake an “an open and transparent merit-based selection process” to find a new commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

Following the shock announcement last Thursday that the inaugural commissioner Susan Pascoe AM will step aside when her term finishes in September, Assistant Minister Michael Sukkar told Pro Bono News the process to find a replacement would centre on transparency.

“I thanked Ms Pascoe for her commitment and service to the ACNC over the last five years,” Sukkar said.

“The government greatly appreciates her service as the inaugural commissioner as well as the experience she brought to the ACNC.

“We will be undertaking an open and transparent merit-based selection process to fill the position of commissioner.”

His comments follow a wave of concern from the social sector about the process involved in decisions around Pascoe’s tenure and the future of the ACNC.

In response to the news that Pascoe would be stepping aside Community Council of Australia drafted an open letter to the prime minister which has now attracted more than 80 signatures, and is set to be presented to Sukkar on Friday.

The letter expressed disappointment that Sukkar had never met with ACNC commissioners and called for Pascoe to be reappointed for at least another 12 months to enable the five-year review of the ACNC to be conducted with her at the helm.

Shadow minister for charities and not for profits Andrew Leigh said Labor and the charity sector would be looking to the Turnbull government to nominate a replacement of “equally high calibre”.

“Labor acknowledges the service of the head of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission, Susan Pascoe, who has not been reappointed by the Turnbull government,” Leigh said.

“Ms Pascoe has been praised by the public service and charities alike. As advisory board chair Tony Stuart put it, under her leadership, the charities commission has ‘not only survived – but thrived’.

“While his immediate predecessor, Michael McCormack, was vocal in his support for the charities commission, Mr Sukkar is yet to provide any formal indication that he shares this view.

“Australia’s charities are now looking to see whether Michael Sukkar and the Turnbull government take our charities seriously.”

Writing in her fortnightly column for the ACNC Pascoe confirmed her term would come to an end when her five year contract finished on 30 September 2017 .

“It has and continues to be an honour to serve as the inaugural ACNC commissioner,” Pascoe said.

“On a daily basis I am inspired by the hard working people who dedicate their lives to the Australian not-for-profit sector for the benefit of others.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the sector for their support over the past five years, through the establishment of the ACNC, including when the future of the organisation was uncertain.”

It is anticipated that the new ACNC commissioner will be appointed by 1 October 2017.

Those interested in signing the letter from CCA should email

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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One comment

  • John Butcher says:

    The government’s failure to reappoint Susan Pascoe as ACNC Commissioner is, like Churchill’s famous aphorism, ‘a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma’. One thing it is not, I suspect, is an accident. This represents a conscious and deliberate decision by the relatively new Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, Michael Sukkar. As far as I can discover, Sukkar has until now barely uttered a word about the ACNC since being appointed to the Ministry. One has to look to his Maiden Speech for clues about his political disposition, and it isn’t reassuring. He refers to himself an economic liberal and a social conservative. He believes in free markets, small government, less regulation and the the self-organising capabilities of local communities to help themselves. He would also appear to be a protege of the former Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews – the man who tried so hard (and mercifully failed) to abolish the ACNC. The evidence for this proposition can be found in the following passage from Sukkar’s Maiden Speech: “I also would not be here today without the inspiring service to our nation of Kevin Andrews. Your example made me believe that conviction in politics still exists, and you continue to provide that example.” I don’t think it’s drawing too long a bow to read into this decision the exacting of political revenge for the ACNC’s failure to go down quietly.

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