Are we there yet?
In our update last month, we provided you with a summary of the ACNC and In Australia Conditions Bills and their amendments following the Parliamentary Committees recommendations.
The Government's intention was for the Bills to be passed by Parliament in time for the proposed 1 October 2012 start date for the ACNC.
As has been widely circulated, the Bills are still up for debate, with the Government anticipating that the ACNC will open its doors in December (subject to its successful passage through Parliament).
So where are we at?
The "In Australia" Special Conditions Bill is before the House of Representatives.
The ACNC Bill is before the Senate and is scheduled for debate on 29 October 2012. Given there are minor proposed amendments to the Bill it will need to return to the House for approval.
The Coalition continues to hold an opposing view to the establishment of the ACNC and its passage through Parliament will depend on support from the minor parties and the cross benches. Kevin Andrews MP the Opposition's Spokesperson latest position is available on his website.
Whilst the Bills are imperfect, we recognise that should the Bills fail, the support of the Sector for future reform will be difficult and the potential for improvements to the existing framework may be difficult to achieve.
Red Tape Reduction Announcements
For regular readers of our Not for Profit Alerts, one of our key concerns arising from the ACNC Bills was the capacity of the ACNC to achieve its objectives of reducing red tape. The inclusion of this as an object of the Bill has been welcome news.
So whilst the Bills have been sitting in the Senate awaiting debate, the Government has made two significant announcements aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the Red tape reduction.
- In conjunction with the South Australian Government, the Federal Government has announced that the SA legislation will be amended to harmonise its reporting and fundraising requirements with the ACNC.
- David Bradbury, the Minister responsible for the ACNC Bills announced this week proposed changes to the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines. These incorporate:
- a reduction in the separate audit requirement for Grant Acquittals for low to medium risk grants where the organisation has provided audited
financial statements to the ACNC; and
- ensuring that agency staff must not request information already provided to the ACNC.
In our view, these are the first positive steps towards true red tape reduction. In particular, the partial removal for Grant acquittals is a welcome step towards the "One Stop Shop" concept of the ACNC. Nevertheless there is a lot more work to be done in this area to achieve the objectives set out for the Commissioner in the Bills.
Consultation and Governance
The Federal Government has also announced the development of a Code for Consultation with the Not For Profit Sector. Workshops are being conducted in all Capital Cities until 1 November 2012. These workshops and an online forum through the National Compact (www.nationalcompact.gov.au) will focus on improvements in the consultation process as well as the start of a discussion about governance within the Sector.
We support the concept of developing the Code for Consultation, however the Minister's press release announcing these consultations was only released the day before the workshops for Sydney and Melbourne providing limited access to the workshops.
Removal of ASIC Annual Fees for Charities
The Government has indicated that from 1 July 2013 the oversight of Charities which are corporations will move to the ACNC. These Charities will no longer have to pay annual ASIC fees.
As we outlined in our last update, the detailed ACNC Bill's financial reporting requirements will be included in the regulations which are yet to be released. The ACNC has announced the establishment of its first working party in relation to sub sector financial and other reporting requirements.
This aim of the working party is to minimise the heavy public reporting requirements of non-government schools. It is anticipated that similar working groups will be established for other Charity sub sectors required to report to the Federal Government.
Moore Stephens Seminars
In relation to our national seminar series on these reforms, we plan to host these nationally once the legislation is passed. We will advise you of the dates once this happens.
In the interim, we will keep you updated through our NFP alerts.
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