It seems that the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has been given a stay of execution by the combined forces of all minor parties and independents in the Senate. In a motion introduced to the Senate last month by Labor Senator Penny Wong, Independent Nick Xenophon, Greens Rachel Stewart and Motoring Enthusiast Party Ricky Muir, the motion sought the withdrawal of the ACNC (Repeal) (No. 1) Bill 2014.
The repeal bill has caused months of uncertainty among Australian charities, and has put the obligations of the ACNC in a virtual holding-pattern while they have awaited word as to whether their work holds any significance. According to a recent report by Ernst and Young, it has also hampered the ACNC’s mandated efforts to reduce red-tape. Read more here.
“[The] Commission saves charities approximately $120 million a year in reduced compliance costs, freeing up resources to spend on helping the community and the Government’s plans to abolish the Commission are creating uncertainty in the charities sector and leading to high staff turnover within the agency itself,” reads a section of the motion.
The motion was UNANIMOUSLY PASSED – even by Government senators.
Furthermore, there have been indications from the social services minister, Scott Morrison that the desire to abolish the Commission has slowly cooled within government ranks. Speaking to the media recently Mr Morrison said, “I have no immediate plans to be progressing that issue while I focus on higher order priorities”. Read more here.
There is no information as yet concerning whether or not another bill will take its place, but indications are increasingly positive that the ACNC is here to stay. In the meantime, the ACNC say that without concrete assurances, they are still struggling to adhere with their purpose while the proverbial guillotine hangs over their head.
“A part of our Act (the ACNC Act) is to reduce the red tape burdens on charities. We have been making some very good progress on this – Government departments could see that we had a legitimate means to reduce the red tape burden as stated in the Act. But we’ve actually now had some Government Departments withdraw from using the Charity Passport. And they are some of the … heaviest hitters in terms of their interactions with charities.” Read more here.
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