THE heads of Australia’s biggest charities – including Father Chris Riley, Tim Costello and Dr Caroline Lambert — have written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott pleading with him to not shut down the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission.
The RSPCA, Wesley Mission Victoria, Lifeline and the Myer Family Company are among those who say they “completely oppose” the government’s plan.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister – which 40 organisations have signed — they say charities will have to deal with more red tape if the commission is shut down, contrary to the government’s intentions.
“The ACNC has done what few new regulators achieve – gained widespread support across the sector it is regulating,” the letter says.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission was established in 2012 following a Productivity Commission review of the not-for-profit sector. The agency is Australia’s first national charities regulator, with responsibility for deciding which organisations are considered charities.
The Australian Taxation Office remains responsible for deciding an organisation’s eligibility for tax concessions, but not-for-profits cannot receive charity tax concessions from the ATO unless they are registered with the ACNC.
The ACNC was designed to become a “one-stop shop” for charities and to help reduce regulatory burden on the sector.
But the Abbott government promised before the September election to shut down the commission, with federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews saying the commission imposes an “unnecessary and ponderous compliance burden on the sector.”
An ACNC Repeal Bill will be presented to Parliament this week.
World Vision chief executive Tim Costello says that if the government got rid of the ACNC there would be more red tape, not less.
He told Fairfax Media he thought the government would also discover it needed to “reinvent something that’s pretty much the same thing” as the Charities Commission.
“The charity sector isn’t just a few amateurs with goodwill, who don’t now need transparency and appropriate regulation. It’s $100 billion, 5 per cent of GDP, it’s five million volunteers,” he said.
Mr Costello said the ACNC also boosted confidence in the not-for-profit sector and most importantly, kept regulation of the sector out of the hands of the Australian Taxation Office.
Source: Latrobe Valley Express