CCA pre-election candidate survey results - June 2016
Over 100 personalised letters were emailed to the major candidates in 30 marginal electorates. Each letter had a personalised introduction, highlighting issues the candidate had publicly acknowledged as important and listing the specific number of charities in their electorate. The same eight questions were asked of each candidate. The letters requested a response within seven days and were signed by the Chair and CEO of CCA.
CCA received a number of individual candidate responses including a letter from the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, an offer to further work with local charities from an ALP candidate and a listing of concerns for local charities from a Greens candidate.
Each major political party provided a response to the questions. It is this formal party response that has been used in compiling the findings below.
Not all parties answered all eight CCA questions directly. In the interests of making meaningful comparisons the following summary of responses has been compiled under four sub headings focusing on major issues for the sector:
1. ACNC and red tape
All political parties now support the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) and want to work to reduce red tape and duplication using the charities passport and national register of charities. Both the ALP and Greens highlighted that without their support the ACNC would not exist. The Coalition highlighted that despite their initial opposition to the ACNC, they have listened to the sector and want to work positively with the ACNC in the future.
On the issue of certainty and government contracting, the Greens agree in principle with the policy of providing a minimum contract period of three years and a minimum notice period for ending government funding of six months. Both the ALP and Coalition say they want to work with the sector to increase certainty, but cannot commit to the minimum contracts or minimum notice period.
3. DGR status
All three major political parties agreed to work with the sector to make it easier for smaller charities to gain DGR. None committed to providing DGR status to charities registered with the ACNC.
4. Future planning for the sustainability of the sector
All three political parties see the not-for-profit sector as important, want to work with the sector and enact policies that will strengthen the sector.
The Coalition stated that it was ‘an objective of the Turnbull Government to create an environment that allows the charitable and not-for-profit sector to thrive’ - they want to work co-operatively with CCA and the sector to achieve this. The Coalition sees the Community Business Partnership as promoting and supporting policies to increase future certainty through promoting philanthropy, workplace giving, impact investment, volunteering and addressing regulatory issues. It also wants to promote more consultation and planning for the future of the sector.
The ALP said, ‘Labour supports a strong and sustainable charities sector’ and will ensure all government Ministers regularly engage with the charities and not-for-profit sector. It has already established consultative mechanisms including the Community Sector Partnership and will re-energise a National Compact. The ALP wants to establish a more partnership based approach to the development, implementation and monitoring of policy impacting on the not-for-profit sector, including better data sharing, ensuring staff terms and conditions are not diminished, and promoting volunteering.
The Greens provided the most specific listing of responses including agreeing to draw on the recommendations for the Productivity Commission for measures that would strengthen the sector and ‘committing additional funding in our initiatives specifically to enable community organisations to deliver the key services that communities across Australia rely on.’ The Greens are concerned about issues like uncertainty and advocacy, and the impact across the sector. In their proposed public reporting of their own performance, the Greens see working with the not-for-profit sector as an essential component of policy making and implementation.
CCA sees the result of this pre-election survey of candidates as very positive. All major parties have indicated strong support for our sector. All major parties are seeking to work with the ACNC to reduce red tape, duplication and compliance costs. While the mechanisms for future planning and engagement vary, all major parties want to actively engage with the sector and work constructively together.