House debates

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2015) Bill 2015, Amending Acts 1990 to 1999 Repeal Bill 2015, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 3) 2015; Second Reading

4:31 pm

Photo of Tony ZappiaTony Zappia (Makin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Manufacturing) Share this | Hansard source

To continue my remarks on the Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2015) Bill 2015 and related bills, prior to question time today I was making the point that, if the government wants to save money and cut red tape, there are many other areas where it could look to do so. I referred to three examples, including the application for passports and the processes that some people need to go through when they have lost a document of some sort, and the same with respect to a replacement for their citizenship certificate, which can also be very time consuming and costly to both parties. I believe that that is where the government could be making some real savings as opposed to some of the claims made about this legislation.

Another area where savings could be made is in the granting of DGR status to organisations in the community. I note that this matter was debated in the House only a week ago with respect to the Tax Laws Amendment (Gifts) Bill 2015. I bring to the House's attention a particular application: it relates to the Vietnamese Catholic community, who applied for DGR status earlier this year. The Vietnamese Catholic community own their own land in Pooraka, which they secured around 30 years ago. On that land, they built a multipurpose building that is used primarily, but not exclusively, as a church. In addition to the church activities, the community have subsequently added to the main building and now their community centre is used for a range of activities including recreation, general administration, aged-care support and a Vietnamese language school. They have plans to do much more with it as well.

In order to do more with it, they want to expand the current facilities that they have. They want those facilities to be used by the broader community for a range of non-religious purposes. In July they applied for DGR status. Their application was not successful because of what appears to be a misunderstanding that the applying organisation was a religious based organisation and that the new extensions it wants to build would be used for religious activities, when that is not the case. Perhaps they did not make their application sufficiently clear to the minister—they had to apply directly to the minister for DGR status. The Vietnamese Catholic community subsequently responded to the minister's rejection letter, clarifying the purpose of their request, and are now awaiting a further response from the minister. The reality is that the multipurpose building that the Vietnamese Catholic community want to build has nothing to do with their religious activities. It is for separate activities for the broader Vietnamese communities, and will be used for cultural activities, celebrations, community events, youth activities, aged services and the like.

I have attended activities and events held by the Vietnamese community at that location, and I can confirm that they do provide a whole range of those non-religious types of activities from their premises. If they were to be granted DGR status, it would enable them to raise funds more quickly. If they raised the funds more quickly, then they would be able to get on with the building of the multipurpose building more quickly. If they do that, it will, in turn, I believe, save the government and broader community a lot of money, because they will use those facilities for a whole range of social support activities that will benefit the local community and which otherwise may well have to be provided by government. Here is a good example of an organisation using the resources of volunteers and a building that they want to pay for themselves to then, in turn, provide a whole range of community services that, in many cases, would otherwise be provided by the government. Yet not only is their application process—I suspect there are others like it—being delayed; whilst it is being delayed they cannot get on with doing what they want to do. It is a good example of where government process needs to be made more efficient. It is a good example of where, if the government really wanted to save money and, in effect, support the community more broadly, it could do so simply by changing the process—I understand that, in some cases, it can take up to 18 months for DGR status to be finally agreed to by the minister—to make it much more efficient. The examples I have provided with respect to this legislation will, I believe, provide real savings to the broader community and real savings to government, as opposed to the claims made by many government members about how this legislation is going to do so much good by saving so much money for the broader community


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