SCOTT MORRISON’S FAILURES ARE COSTING CHARITIES MILLIONS

ANDREW LEIGH MP.
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1 month ago
SCOTT MORRISON’S FAILURES ARE COSTING CHARITIES MILLIONS
ANDREW LEIGH MP
Scott Morrison’s failure on charitable fundraising reform is costing Australian charities more than a million dollars every month.

On 15 December 2020, twelve months ago tomorrow, the Morrison Government promised to fix the country’s outdated fundraising laws. The Treasurer Josh Frydenberg even admitted that inconsistent regulations across states and territories created “an estimated regulatory burden of $13.3 million a year” for the sector. This is because charities who want to raise money online through a national campaign need to file paperwork registering in every state and territory (except the Northern Territory). These seven sets of forms can often take charities up to a week to comply with.

In another demonstration that the Morrison Government is all announcement and no delivery, a full year has gone by since the Treasurer’s empty promise. Charities are still burdened by unnecessary reporting requirements, which sees money being spent on excessive paperwork instead of causes such as feeding the homeless, protecting our environment and helping Australians rebuild their lives after natural disasters.

Charities have been waiting too long. In early 2018, a Senate Select Committee, chaired by Catryna Bilyk handed down a bipartisan recommendation that the problem be fixed within two years. Coalition Senators Eric Abetz and Amanda Stoker signed on to this deadline. Yet nothing happened.

In October 2020, the Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Preparation found that harmonised fundraising would help communities to better prepare and recover.

Since the catastrophic fires of summer 2019-20, the Coalition’s inertia has cost charities over $26 million in unnecessary compliance burdens. This comes at the same time as they’ve failed to spend even one per cent of the $4 billion Emergency Response Fund, with not a single project to show for it. The Liberals have kept their hands in their pockets while callously sacrificing millions from the budgets of the charities that will be at the frontline when disaster hits.

When charities rallied again to support communities through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector again called out for an end to the old-fashioned mish-mosh of regulations that depletes the donations they could be using to support vulnerable Australians.

There is no excuse for the Morrison Government’s failure to fix fundraising.

They have been reminded of the urgent need for reform by Treasury, by the Charities Crisis Cabinet, by the national COVID commission's not-for-profit working group, and by the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

For years, the charities sector has been handballed from minister to minister, with no one willing to deliver positive change. Since I took on the charities portfolio for Labor in 2013, I have seen seven charities ministers pass through the job. The coalition’s latest charities minister is Michael Sukkar, whose attack on charitable activism was last month voted down by the Senate, following a campaign from hundreds of environmental, social service and religious charities.

Scott Morrison and his colleagues are all promise and no follow-through. Their failure of leadership is hurting charities and hurting Australians.

An Albanese Labor Government will work with charities, not against them, delivering a fairer society and a stronger economy.
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