Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Regulations and Determinations
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Amendment Regulation 2013 (No. 1)
At the request of Senator Collins, I move:
That, in accordance with section 45.20 of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012, the Senate approves the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Amendment Regulation 2013 (No. 1) made under the Act on 1 March 2013.
The Australian Greens are supporting this motion on the government's standards for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, which will enable the commission to better fulfil its objectives under the act. We note that this has not been an easy decision. We strongly supported the creation of the ACNC and secured a number of amendments to strengthen the legislation and secure the independence of both the ACNC and the sector. The ACNC has three objectives: to promote an independent and vibrant sector; to reduce unnecessary regulatory obligations; and to maintain, protect and enhance public confidence and trust in the sector.
Over the last few months the ACNC's culture has had a fairly proactive approach to enforcement of some of these objectives—particularly around its data collection requirements—and this process has been heavily criticised by some charities. I share their concerns that the ACNC is being unnecessarily heavy-handed in its approach to regulating charities, presenting a view of the sector that focuses on the rogues rather than the thousands and thousands of organisations that help and support the community. They are concerned that the ACNC has not been fulfilling the other two objectives as effectively as the one it has been focused on, that of regulating the process. I have raised these concerns with the ACNC. I would like to table today the response from the ACNC. I understand that I have permission from the whips to do that. I table the letter from the ACNC.
I am glad that the ACNC has made an effort to understand the concerns of the community organisations, but that there is still more work for it to do to win the trust and confidence of the sector. There is more work for it to do to understand the impact that its communication strategy has had on the sector and that it is not promoting the enhancement of public trust and confidence in the sector—rather, it could undermine it. I also note that not-for-profit organisations have been generally supportive of the governance standards themselves. (Time expired)
Question agreed to.