Government ordered to respond to fundraising inquiry
28 November 2019 at 4:12 pm
The Senate has given the government less than a week to release its response to the report
The Morrison government is under pressure to release its overdue response to a Senate inquiry which called for urgent harmonisation of Australia’s charitable fundraising laws.
The Senate passed a resolution on Wednesday ordering Assistant Minister for Charities Zed Seselja to table the government’s response to the fundraising inquiry by Monday, and explain why the response was delayed.
While government responses to committee reports are due within three months, it has been more than nine months since the Senate tabled the report.
Labor’s charities spokesperson Andrew Leigh said the Morrison government has been dragging its feet for too long on fundraising reform.
He said red tape was costing charities $15 million a year, as organisations were forced to deal with outdated fundraising laws that varied from state to state and were written pre-internet.
“This is not just a number on a page – it means real people are getting less help,” Leigh said.
“Right now, there are charities supporting communities devastated by drought and bushfires, and helping out families who are struggling to get by who have less to work with because Scott Morrison and his charities minister are dragging their feet.”
The Senate committee fundraising report recommended Parliament reform Australia’s fundraising laws within the next two years.
Fundraising reform advocates want a nationally-consistent, fit-for-purpose charitable fundraising regime created by repealing existing state and ACT laws, and amending Australian Consumer Law so it applies to fundraising activities.
But charity leaders were disappointed that charitable fundraising was not discussed during the annual Consumer Affairs Forum meeting in New Zealand in late August.
Labor Senator Catryna Bilyk, who chaired the fundraising inquiry, said the government’s failure to put this issue on the agenda of the forum showed they were not serious about taking action on the issue.
She said Assistant Minister Seselja could no longer hide from his lack of action on fundraising reform.
“I am looking forward to the minister’s explanation and I hope he can also explain why the Morrison government has done nothing to progress the harmonisation of charity fundraising laws,” Bilyk said.
Assistant Minister Seselja would not comment on when the fundraising inquiry response will be tabled when contacted by Pro Bono News.
But a spokesperson for the assistant minister said the government’s response to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission review – which was tabled more than 18 months ago – would be delivered in the first half of next year.