Silencing Australians: The result of the Federal Government's proposed overseas donations ban

CCA joined a delegation of charity leaders at Parliament House, urging parliamentarians to oppose any legislation that would stifle the voices of  Australian charities and restrict overseas philanthropic donations supporting their work. 

David Crosbie, CCA; Hugh de Kretser, HRLC and Sally Moyle, CARE Australia answer media questions following the release of  a Joint Statement and talk to the importance of advocacy and international philanthropy, and why they should be exempt from any ban on overseas donations.


Cormann: foreign donations ban ‘ineffective’ if charities exempt, The Guardian, 27 Feb

Excluding charities makes foreign donations ban ‘entirely ineffective’ says Cormann, Pro Bono News, 27 Feb

Charities good work put at risk by ‘inept’ Coalition laws, says Labor, The Guardian, 26 Feb

Labor will not support donations laws that ‘punish’ charities, Shorten says, The Guardian, 25 Feb

Bill Shorten signals fight over charity crackdown, Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Feb

Don’t silence our charities: Shorten, SBS, 25 Feb

Foreign donations bill ‘likely’ to be struck down by High Court, Pro Bono News, 19 Feb

Foreign donor bill ‘doomed to fail’, The Australian, 17 Feb

Donations ban ‘constitutionally invalid‘, 9 News, 16 Feb

Charity donations ‘in jeopardy’, The Australian, 14 Feb

Turnbull’s 18c on steroids, Gideon Rozner in The Spectator, 10 Feb

Government accused of undermining Australia’s charities, Pro Bono News, 8 Feb

Hansard, House of Representatives, 7 Feb.  Labor raises ‘The Government undermining Australia’s charities’ as a Matter of Public Importance

Mathias Cormann concedes Coalition may have to change foreign donations ban, The Guardian, 7 Feb

Liberals must not sacrifice free speech to curb GetUp!, The Australian, 7 Feb

Only one in five Australians favour proposed limits on charitable advocacy, Pro Bono News, 7 Feb

Christian Porter flags dilution of foreign influence laws, Australian Financial Review, 6 Feb

The war on charities continues – Media Release from Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-profits, Andrew Leigh MP

Greens lead early attack on donations bill, West Australian, AAP, 5 Feb

Coalition voters don’t like charity change, SBS, 5 Feb

At government hearings, Australian NGOs get harsh reception, Devex, 5 Feb 

Coalition efforts to restrict influence of charities go too far: Toni Hassan, Canberra Times, 5 Feb

Scientists fear criminal penalties under foreign donation ban, Sunday Telegraph, 4 Feb

11 ways experts say the Governments new foreign donations laws will screw democracy, Buzzfeed, 2 Feb

Religious Freedoms under threat as government targets charities, Eternity News, 2 Feb

Tim Costello compares Coalition’s foreign donation ban to Putin’s crackdown on dissent, The Guardian, 1 Feb

Charities unclear and concerned over foreign donations bill, Pro Bono News, 1 Feb

IPA echoes charity sector push to redraft foreign donations bill, Pro Bono News, 30 Jan

IPA joins forces with GetUp! to condemn ‘unprecedented and dangerous’ donations laws, The Age, 29 Jan

Philanthropy, political interference and the law of unintended consequences, Krystian Siebert, Philanthropy Australia on Triple R FM, 29 Jan

IPA joins forces with Get Up! to condemn ‘unprecedented and dangerous’ donations law, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Jan

Crackdown on donations would destroy activist groups, Get Up! says, The Guardian, 29 Jan

Exclusive:  Minerals Council one-third Foreign Owned, The Saturday Paper, 27 Jan

Gary Johns warns that foreign donations bill means red tape for charities, The Australian, 25 Jan

Silencing the Poor, Pro Bono News, 23 Jan

Electoral Disclosure and Funding Reform: an Explainer, Pro Bono News, 23 Jan

Charities urged to have their say on foreign donations bill, Pro Bono News, 22 Jan

Foreign donation and charity law changes ‘likely’ to face high court challenge, The Guardian, 12 Jan

Charities fear donations bill a muzzle, The Australian, 11 Jan

St Vincent de Paul Warns Foreign Donations Will Mute the Voice of Charities, Pro Bono News, 11 Jan

Charities warn Australia’s foreign donation laws will strangle advocacy, The Guardian, 11 Jan

As politicians we must lift our game and respond to the frustrations of Australians, Andrew Giles MP, Deputy Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electroal Matters, The Guardian, 2 Jan

Green groups and charities could be collateral damage in Government’s foreign donations ban, The Conversation, 6 December

Tim Costello on RN Breakfast, 6 December

Charities and research groups concerned about foreign interference crackdown, ABC Radio, The World Today, 6 December

Foreign Donations Ban Confirms Charities ‘Worst Fears‘, Pro Bono News, 6 December 2017

‘Chilling effect’: Charities slam foreign donations ban, SMH, The Age, 5 December 2017

Charities and activist groups slam Commonwealth ban on foreign donations, ABC Radio, PM, 5 December 2017

Smothering charities: the plot to keep critics quiet next election, SMH, The Age, 30 November 2017

Charity coaltion hits back over election advocacy restrictions, The Guardian, 27 November 2017

Charities worried about foreign crackdown, The Telegraph and News Ltd, 27 November 2017

Government Called on to Stop the War on Charities, Pro Bono News

Australians Want to Hear the Voices of Charities – Politicians Take Note, Pro Bono News

CCA Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, September 2017

Hands Off Our Charities, Add your voice – sign the petition.


Joint Statement from leading charities released at Parliament House, 27 November

Australian charities are united in opposing the Federal Government’s attempt to undermine the benefits many Australians receive from philanthropy and to silence their voices. Among a range of worrying impacts, the proposed legislation would limit funding for life-saving medical research; access to education; the voice and rights of Indigenous Australians; and the ability to sustain and protect our shared natural environment. Unless common sense prevails, legislation targeting foreign donations to political parties will ban charities that receive international philanthropy from being able to advocate for Australians; for those in need in our region; and on global issues which Australians care about. There is a categorical difference between donations to political parties and philanthropy for charitable purposes and it would damage the functioning of our democracy if there is failure to recognise this.

The public is behind charities

The Federal Government’s proposed ban on charities receiving overseas donations is out of step with public opinion. Australians overwhelmingly (76%) support charities having a public voice on issues they were established to address and a majority (55%) believe that imposing restrictions on the ability of charities to advocate would result in a silencing of Australians and undermining our democratic principles.

International philanthropy supports Australian giving

International philanthropy to Australia boosts the impact of domestic giving in alleviating hardship, gives voice to those who may otherwise be ignored, and contributes to a brighter future for many Australians. This is a time in which we should be working together to maximise international philanthropy in Australia, not restrict or ban it.

Advocacy is vital for addressing the causes of social and environmental challenges

Advocacy by charities is often the only way people can be heard and hold politicians to account for decisions that impact their lives. It is a legitimate and legal activity, crucial in tackling the causes of social and environmental challenges, rather than just their symptoms. Advocacy has made Australia a better and fairer place to live. Together, Australian charities call on the parliament to exempt registered charities from this legislation; to preserve international philanthropy for Australia, and; to protect charities’ ability to stand up for the interests of communities and the issues they care about. 

Joint Statement - Parliament House, Canberra, 27 November 2017

Why does advocacy by charities and international philanthropy to support advocacy matter?