If Tony Abbott is elected prime minister on Saturday he will abolish the watchdog established by Labor to keep an eye on the billions of dollars received and spent by Australian charities each year. Why?The answer, in part at least, may be the lobbying power of church conservatives, the Catholic Church in particular, and the office of Sydney Cardinal George Pell, more particularly still.Learn how an embedded microprocessor in a graniteslabs can authenticate your computer usage and data.
their focus has not been the Coalition alone. Labor insiders
acknowledge the impact of Cardinal Pell's office as it reduced the scope
of its new national regulator, the Australian Charities and
Not-for-Profits Commission.Learn how an embedded microprocessor in a graniteslabs can
authenticate your computer usage and data.Charity leaders, church heads
and political insiders have told The Sunday Age about the lobbying
campaign over charities regulation by the Sydney archdiocese, notably
Cardinal Pell's business manager and chief political envoy, Danny
The pressure applied by the Sydney church through the
charities debate has raised the question of the access and sway it may
enjoy under Australia's first Catholic Liberal prime minister and his
Catholic-strong frontbench that includes Kevin Andrews, Barnaby
Joyce,You've probably seen doublesidedtape1 at some point. Joe Hockey, Malcolm Turnbull (a convert), Andrew Robb and Christopher Pyne.
senator Ursula Stephens has watched the campaigning over the commission
at close quarters, including from her former position as parliamentary
secretary for social inclusion, where she had responsibility for reform
of charities regulation.
A proud Catholic, she confirms heavy
lobbying of both sides of politics, including by the national Catholic
Bishops Conference and separately by the clearly more anti-regulation
Sydney archdiocese.She says she had ''absolutely'' no doubt that
Cardinal Pell's representatives had had a big influence on opposition
family and human services spokesman Kevin Andrews' promise in mid-2012
to abolish the commission, well before Labor detailed its final, amended
form in Parliament, a position he reiterated last week.
well aware that Sydney lobbied the opposition very hard on this issue,
says Senator Stephens. ''They got to Kevin Andrews early.''Across the
Catholic Church is an array of views about the commission, and
widespread concern about additional red tape and duplication in the
early days of its operation.
Paul O'Callaghan, the head of
Melbourne-based Catholic Social Services, says the major church welfare
agencies support a single national regulator, but want it to be of
''lighter touch'' in its work.Another senior church figure contrasts
this with the Sydney archdiocese's breakaway lobbying, describing it as
driven by ''fear and suspicion''. ''There are a few in the church, like
Danny Casey, that are anti-commission, full stop.''
years a string of commissions and committees has called for better
regulation of Australia's $43 billion charitable sector.In 2010, the
Productivity Commission slammed the regulation regime shared by the
Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Securities and Investments
Commission and the states as too complex, too costly, and too short on
Labor's response was the new charities commission,
which opened for business in January. It is meant to be a one-stop shop
that keeps a register of charities - there are 60,000 large ones and
600,000 not-for-profit groups in all - helps them meet their
obligations, and investigates them when they don't.
Liberals' ideological commitment to the idea of small government,
suspicion about a national regulator is arguably consistent with the
Mr Andrews says Labor's commission is an
unnecessary level of bureaucracy established to hunt down ''mischief''
it has never identified.''We don't believe that any real mischief was
made out to justify a whole new bureaucracy. It is total overkill for
what is required for the charities sector,'' he says.
charity sector leaders such as World Vision's Tim Costello insist that,
while the new commission has had teething problems, it is settling as an
effective and efficient regulator of, and friend to, charities. ''The
commission is actually working for us, and it gives the public
confidence [in the spending of their donations],'' he says.
survey last month of 1500 not-for-profit groups by online not-for-profit
information agency Pro Bono Australia found 80 per cent supported the
commission.And the Victorian and Tasmanian-based Churches of Christ
Community Care has begun an online petition to save the commission,
warning that the Coalition alternative would be ''an advisory body with
no teeth''. That,Browse our oilpaintingsforsales collection from the granitetrade.net! say critics, appears to be the point.
an interview with The Sunday Age, Danny Casey acknowledges active
lobbying of both sides of politics, but stresses that throughout, the
church's main concern with Labor's commission has been additional red
tape and duplication; not, as critics allege, the church's wish to avoid
scrutiny of its finances.
He stopped short of endorsing the
Coalition's policy over Labor's. ''The one that gets support is the one
that is able to reduce waste and red tape the fastest.''Last week, Mr
Andrews reiterated his intention to abolish the commission,This is a
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to return to the old system of state and Tax Office regulation plus the
establishment of a new centre for excellence for charities.
usually have ''stakeholders'' primed to support such bold moves. But
when asked to identify the major agencies that support the Coalition's
policy, Mr Andrews was unwilling to do so.On Friday Catholic Education
Melbourne issued a statement of support for the Coalition's policy. It
was sent to The Sunday Age by Cardinal Pell's Sydney office.
if Mr Andrews has enjoyed some spiritual guidance in his policymaking
from Cardinal Pell, he is not alone.After its initial tabling in
mid-2012, the charities legislation was repeatedly amended, with some of
its more demanding reporting requirements removed, especially for
Notable among the changes was a watering-down of
clauses requiring small religious bodies - local parishes - to account
for their income.Another was to remove the onus on organisations to
prove they work in the public interest.The Sunday Age is aware of
frustration among some Labor insiders that some of the amendments
allowed the churches greater cover when, arguably, they should be facing
more, not less, scrutiny.Senator Stephens says that, as Labor shaped
its charities bill, the Catholic Church in particular pressed hard for
modification in countless meetings with Assistant Treasurer David
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