The report from the Committee issued on 15 August 2012.
In summary, the Committee recommends that the Australian
Charities and Not-for-Profits Bill 2012 be passed but subject to
some recommended changes:
That a specific object be included to "reduce red
tape". This would be in addition to the other 2 express
objects of maintaining "public trust and confidence" and
"a vibrant not-for-profit sector".
- That the explanatory material contain an explanation of the
phrase "public trust and confidence" and the way
it might be interpreted; and
That the Guide to the Act emphasise the educative and enabling
role of the Commission
That during some introductory phase, the ACNC have a discretion
to accept reports and material prepared by charities for other
agencies and other levels of government. ACNC specific reporting
only to be required once the portal is functioning as a report once
use often point of focus.
That governance standards already in use by some sectors,
(provided they meet some minimal tests of "charitable
objects" and "fit and proper person") be adopted
into the Bill by regulation, with the Parliamentary draftsman
creating a set of default standards.
That private donors be protected from public identification if
they wish to keep their philanthropy private.
That the section of the Bill dealing with obligations,
liabilities and offences (eg directors liability) should be sent
back to Treasury for redrafting as they are uncertain and not easy
enough to understand.
That the Bill also be modified so that the Commissioner be
required to give written notice of her intention to revoke or
suspend registration or remove a responsible entity (eg a director)
so that the entity has an opportunity to be heard. The one
exception would be if the Commissioner believes immediate action is
required. Likewise the Bill be modified so an entity has an
opportunity to be heard prior to publication of certain information
and requiring that the material be removed from the Register once
an appropriate amount of time has elapsed, provided the matter has
been resolved and there is no public interest in retaining the
The explanatory memorandum should clarify that the Commissioner
has a discretion not to impose an administrative penalty, for
example, for failure to lodge a document, instead of being obliged
to impose a penalty
Interestingly, that the Bill contain a provision requiring that
it be reviewed after operating for five years.
The Liberal members of the Committee have published a dissenting
report. Both reports are available at the House of Representatives
There is no specific recommendation made concerning the Basic
religious charity exemption, so for the time being, we can conclude
that that material will remain as drafted.
We now await the journey of the Bill through both Houses to see
how many other changes will be made before it is enacted: or
whether, of course, it secures the appropriate majorities to ensure
it is enacted after all. The revised Bill is expected to be
introduced into the House of Representatives next week, so we will
keep you updated.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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