Media Release: ACT government set to undermine all charities - 29 Oct 2015

The Community Council for Australia (CCA) has expressed dismay following reports today that the ACT government is intending to develop an ACT specific definition of charities, ignoring all legal and other conventions, and over-riding existing legislation and regulations.

According to David Crosbie, CEO of the Community Council for Australia, ‘the ACT government will alienate the whole charities sector if it proceeds with steps to make up its own definition of charity.  We already have a nationally regulated definition of charity, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission, the rulings of the Australian Taxation Office, and well established guidelines that have evolved from High Court decisions.  We do not need new ACT specific regulations imposed on all charities.  We have enough red tape and compliance costs.’ 

Mr Crosbie highlighted that the ACT government had been one of the first governments to support the work of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission and agree to harmonize its legislation with the national regulator.

‘This proposal is nonsense.  Will ACT charities have to satisfy all the national requirements as well as a set of new ones the ACT government are going to impose?  Does the ACT government believe its own separate definition of charity is better than the nationally regulated definition which took years to develop and implement, and was based on recommendations of the Productivity Commission and more than five major national inquiries?  Does the ACT government reject the High Court definition of charity?  Is the ACT government committed to increasing red tape for all charities by imposing a unique set of new requirements?  Does the ACT reject the national register of charities and all the work of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission?  Is the ACT government seeking to drive peak bodies out of the ACT by making it more difficult for them to operate here?  How absurd!’

Mr Crosbie likened the proposal as a step back into the days prior to Federation; ‘next thing they will be wanting to have an ACT specific rail gauge or tax any business seeking to operate outside the borders of the ACT.  The charities sector in the ACT employs thousands of staff and makes a real economic and social contribution to the ACT community.  Why strangle it?’