‘They are not just an attack on charities. They are an attack on democracy.’
4 August 2021 at 5:21 pm
The charity sector has 15 days to secure support for a disallowance motion to prevent controversial changes to governance standards becoming law, after the regulations were tabled
Charities leaders have united to condemn amendments to charity governance standards that they say will shut them down for speaking out, after the Morrison government tabled the controversial new regulations in the Senate.
The amendments to Governance Standard 3 of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) Regulations, sponsored by Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, expand the reasons for which a charity can be deregistered beyond indictable offences to include summary offences, such as trespassing, theft, vandalism or assault.
Advocates argue that the new regulations, which were tabled on Tuesday, will give the charities commissioner “extraordinary powers” to deregister a charity.
The sector believes this proposal – which is part of a government crackdown on “activist organisations masquerading as charities” – could lead to charities being deregistered for something as simple as a staff member blocking a footpath at a public vigil.
Those opposed to the changes now have 15 days to secure support for a disallowance motion to prevent the changes becoming law.
In a bid to voice their concern and call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to immediately withdraw the regulations, leaders of many Canberra-based charities gathered at Parliament House.
Speaking at the media event, Anglicare Australia executive director, Kasy Chambers, said the new rules were designed to stop organisations from speaking up for their communities by punishing them.
“They are not just an attack on charities. They are an attack on democracy. We’re calling on the government to withdraw these changes – and put an end to these attacks for good,” Chambers said.
Gordon Ramsay, CEO of the Alliance for Gambling reform said, especially at the moment, with all of the pressures on the community and the charities sector, these new regulations added nothing of value.
“Instead they will damage our charities and the people we support,” Ramsay said.
“They tighten red tape and controls when we need to focus our energy on working for a stronger community.”
You can find out what other charities said about the new regulations by reading the findings of our reader poll.