Earlier this week, the Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews reconfirmed his plans to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). At the Disability Services CEO conference Minister Andrews stated “to benefit civil society as a whole, the Government has committed to abolishing the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, with repeal legislation to be introduced into Parliament next year”.
This statement is unsurprising as it reinforces the Coalition Government’s stance to abolish the ACNC.
On Wednesday 4 December, Minister Andrews introduced a late amendment to the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 to delay the commencement of the Charities Act 2013 until 1 September 2014. The Charities Act is currently due to commence on 1 January 2014. The Act provides a statutory definition of charity and was passed on the penultimate sitting day before Parliament rose before the election. For more information on the Charities Act please see our previous blog.
The Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum noted “[T]he delay will allow for further consultation on the legislation in the broader context of the Government’s other commitments in relation to the civil sector.” It is not yet clear what the Government’s planned “further consultation” process will involve. Furthermore, at this stage, other planned reforms for the sector are unclear.
On Thursday afternoon, Greens Senator Siewert introduced a motion to refer the Bill to a Committee Inquiry. In fact, the Bill has been referred to three different Committees. The Committees are due to report back to the Senate on 12 December, which will be the last sitting day of the year.
For the moment, the future of the Charities Act is particularly unclear.
If you would like more information please contact Bill d’Apice or Anna Lewis of this office.