Don’t Stifle the Voice of Charities, says Australia

06 Feb, 2018

Polling commissioned by the Fred Hollows Foundation for the ‘Hands Off Our Charities’ alliance has found that Australians are opposed to new laws which will restrict the voice of charities, with the Government facing an uphill battle with its own supporters.

Asked specifically about the Government’s new legislation, 58 per cent of Australians opposed it, with only 1 in 5 supporting the plan. Amongst party supporters, 48 per cent of Coalition voters opposed the plan, with 69 per cent of Labor and 82 per cent of Green supporters holding the same view.

“This package of Bills will fundamentally alter how Australians participate in our democracy and go way beyond the stated purpose of reducing foreign interference,” said Marc Purcell, CEO of the Australian Council for International Development, and member of the ‘Hands Off Our Charities’ alliance.

Asked about charities’ role in Australia, a majority of Coalition, Labor and Green supporters said that they played a vital role in highlighting social issues to Government and acted fairly when doing so.

Purcell continued: “There is widespread opposition to this Bill from every corner of Australian society. Australians support charities having a strong voice and believe they play a vital role in our democracy.

“It’s clear that Australians think we would be a poorer place if we started down the dangerous path of silencing communities.”

Charities say that the Bill unfairly brings their legitimate activities into partisan politics and would have a ‘chilling effect’ on their advocacy.

“This Bill will bring in new harsh civil and criminal penalties, an increased red-tape burden, restrictions on funding sources and places a burden on everyday Australians making a charitable donation. We fear charities will stop advocating and contributing to public debate.”

Charities are calling for the Bill (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill) to be completely redrafted.

ENDS

Media Contact

For further information, contact Tim Watkin at [email protected] or on 0401 721 064.