Zed Seselja Appointed New Minister for Charities
4 September 2018 at 8:38 am
The Morrison government has appointed a new minister for charities, Senator Zed Seselja, who previously expressed a desire to improve government relations with the sector.
But concerns have been raised about Seselja’s ties to Peter Dutton and his role during the home affairs minister’s failed leadership coup.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealed Treasury portfolio arrangements on Monday, with Seselja given responsibility for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
“Zed Seselja will have responsibility for the not-for-profit and mutuals sector including the [ACNC],” Frydenberg said.
Frydenberg confirms treasury arrangements: he will have control over ASIC APRA and ACCC; assistant Stuart Robert to get super, ABS; assistant to the minister Zed Seselja to get housing policy pic.twitter.com/ymWlzJT2T7
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) September 2, 2018
For over a year, Seselja was the assistant minister for social services and multicultural affairs, and had constant dealings with the charity sector.
After taking part in a Community Council for Australia (CCA) pre-election debate on charity policy in 2016, Seselja told Pro Bono News the government always needed to find better ways of working with the charity sector.
“Certainly respect is a critical part of our community … I want to see [charities] continue to thrive and for the government to continue to find ways to help them and not necessarily in a domineering way,” Seselja said at the time.
Given his previous experience, CCA CEO David Crosbie said he welcomed Seselja’s appointment to the role.
“The charity sector will welcome back Assistant Minister Zed Seselja, who will have responsibilities for the ACNC and – we believe – some other aspects of charity policy,” Crosbie told Pro Bono News.
“Senator Seselja previously represented the government in the CCA pre-election debate on charity policy held at the National Press Club prior to the last election, and… expressed interest in and commitment to supporting charities in Australia.
“We wish the new [minister] well in this role and look forward to working with him to strengthen role of charities and the broader civil society as we head towards the next federal election.”
The charities commission also welcomed Seselja to the role.
ACNC Commissioner Dr Gary Johns told Pro Bono News: “On behalf of the ACNC, I wish to congratulate the assistant to the minister for Treasury and finance [Senator] Seselja on the appointment; we look forward to working with him.”
Seselja marks the charity sector’s sixth minister since 2013, following Kevin Andrews, Scott Morrison, Christian Porter, Michael McCormack, and most recently Michael Sukkar, who resigned in August following the Liberal Party’s leadership crisis.
Labor MP Andrew Leigh, the shadow minister for charities and not for profits, said this instability in the role clouded Seselja’s appointment.
“Regardless of what you think about each of those individuals, it’s hard to see how a minister can properly serve the sector when they’re only in the job for an average of ten months,” Leigh said.
Leigh also noted Seselja’s role as a “leading public face” of Peter Dutton’s failed leadership insurgency, and warned his elevation to charities minister would be dangerous for the sector.
“With one of Peter Dutton’s henchmen taking responsibility for the charities commission, charities will now be steeling themselves for the next attack,” he said.
“Rewarding Senator Seselja’s appetite for destruction by placing him in charge of our best community builders just confirms the perverse energies that now guide this government.”