Increased fears for charities as Government presses ahead with erosion of advocacy

05 Nov, 2017

Special Minister of State, Scott Ryan, has indicated that the Government will press ahead with legislation on foreign donations to political parties which charities fear will have the effect of preventing charities who conduct advocacy from receiving international philanthropy.

CEO of the Australian Council for International Development, Marc Purcell, said:

“The Minister has increased fears that the Government intends to press ahead with a measure that will erode charities’ ability to speak out on behalf of communities and limits international philanthropy that helps Australian charities pursue their mission.

“To create catch-all regulation on the basis that politicians and charities are one and the same is mistaken. There is a categorical difference between politicians who pull the levers of power and charities who advocate on issues on a non-partisan basis.

“The advocacy work charities are permitted to undertake is already set out in Charitable and Electoral law, and the statutory regulator – the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission – has powers to investigate and impose penalties for wrong-doing. Registered charities cannot endorse parties or political candidates and must stick to their charitable purpose when it comes to advocacy.

“It’s clear from the dissenting reports to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters and comments in the media that there is broad opposition to this measure in Parliament. Working alongside a coalition of charities, we will continue to argue for the rejection of this measure which will deny vital charitable resources for Australia and will raise awareness of its impact amongst the community.” 

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Special Minister of State Scott Ryan speaks to RN Drive about the forthcoming legislation.

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For further information, contact Tim Watkin at media@acfid.asn.au or on 0401 721 064.