Close Search
 
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES for the COMMON GOOD
News  |  Social Affairs

Foreign Donations Bill Changes Labelled a Win For Charities


21 September 2018 at 5:44 pm
Luke Michael
Draft amendments to the foreign donations bill have been labelled a win for the charity sector, with the government backing down on measures that threatened charitable advocacy.


Luke Michael | 21 September 2018 at 5:44 pm


0 Comments


 Print
Foreign Donations Bill Changes Labelled a Win For Charities
21 September 2018 at 5:44 pm

Draft amendments to the foreign donations bill have been labelled a win for the charity sector, with the government backing down on measures that threatened charitable advocacy.

The federal government on Wednesday amended its Electoral Funding and Reform Bill, after a parliamentary joint standing committee made a number of recommendations to improve the bill.

The charity sector raised concerns the legislation – which broadened registration and disclosure requirements for non-party political actors – would stifle advocacy and impose unnecessary red-tape on these organisations.

The amended bill has replaced the term “political expenditure” with “electoral expenditure” – a much narrower definition focused on actual electioneering rather than other forms of public advocacy by charities.

This means non-partisan issue based advocacy will not be captured, vastly simplifying the compliance on charities and other organisations speaking publicly about policy issues.

Community Council of Australia CEO David Crosbie told Pro Bono News this amended version of the bill would have minimal impact on the vast majority of charities.

Krystian Seibert, an industry fellow at the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University, said he was pleased the government replaced the “existing unworkable definition” of political expenditure with electoral expenditure.

“The government’s draft amendments to the bill are sensible and comprehensive, and go a long way towards addressing the concerns which have been raised about the bill and its impact on advocacy by charities,” Seibert told Pro Bono News.

In another win for the sector, registration processes have been simplified through a new single transparency register, while the number of entities required to register has also been reduced through higher thresholds and the removal of registration requirements for third parties.

Philanthropy Australia (PA) CEO Sarah Davies told Pro Bono News the organisation was currently going through the details of the latest draft before finalising its position.

But she said after PA’s latest meeting with Minister Mathias Cormann’s office on Monday, it was cautiously optimistic its members would be happy with the changes, particularly around the narrowed definition of political expenditure.

“[We want] to work towards a positive outcome which ensures transparency from foreign influence on our political system but doesn’t put at risk the critical contribution charities and philanthropy make to public debate, a cornerstone of Australian democracy,” Davies said.

The amended bill has again been presented to a parliamentary joint standing committee for inquiry, with the committee taking public submissions until 27 September.

Human Rights Law Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser said this gave the sector a chance to further strengthen the bill, and provide greater clarity on exactly what was captured by the legislation.

“The government has listened to and addressed many of the key concerns that charities had with the bill,” de Kretser said.

“[But] we are concerned that the bill still contains a rule that would require some charities and other groups to disclose the political party membership of senior staff.”


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

PB Careers
Get your biweekly dose of news, opinion and analysis to keep you up to date with what’s happening and why it matters for you, sent every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers? Get in touch at news@probonoaustralia.com.au or download our contributor guidelines.

Advertisement

Virtual Congress - CPA Australia

Get more stories like this

FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Early survey insights reveal a social sector facing severe burnout

Luke Michael

Thursday, 22nd October 2020 at 5:22 pm

Remote human trafficking

Jessica Borten

Wednesday, 21st October 2020 at 6:04 pm

Greater privacy protections promised for disability royal commission

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 21st October 2020 at 6:01 pm

Advocates fear Indigenous kids are losing connections to their culture

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 21st October 2020 at 5:25 pm

pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook
×