The Coalition Government has stated that it will seek to abolish
the ACNC along with more than 8000 federal laws on 19 March as part
of its plan to reduce red tape. This confirms the Government's
commitment to abolish the ACNC.
Although Minister Andrews has said that the
ACNC would be replaced by a National Centre for Excellence "as
a fount of both innovation and advocacy" there is still much
uncertainty regarding the scope and operation of this Centre.
Minister Kevin Andrews has suggested that an evaluation model based
on the US Charity Navigator could replace the educative and
registry functions of the ACNC. This model is best known for its
comparative lists of charities such as 10 super-sized charities, 10
consistently low rated charities, 10 charities overpaying their
fundraisers and so on. Much
debate regarding the merits of a system which ranks charities
has followed and without further clarity regarding the Centre's
objectives, purpose and scope to collect data such a proposal is
difficult to assess.
Minister Andrews has said that he hoped to have the proposed
National Centre for Excellence up and running by early next
With the educative and information functions intended to be
handled by the Centre for Excellence, it is understood that the
regulatory functions of the ACNC are likely to be transferred back
to the ATO.
However, the ATO has told the Senate Estimate hearing that it
would need additional resources if it was to take on the charity
regulator role. Despite the need for additional staff to handle
charity regulation, 500 ATO staff have
already been offered voluntary redundancies with up to 900
staff to receive redundancies by the end of the financial year.
These redundancies include offers to
staff at the ACNC who are employed by the ATO.
In order for the ACNC to be unwound and for a new Centre of
Excellence to be established, the Government intends to introduce
legislation to Federal Parliament in the coming week, however, as
foreshadowed in our
earlier blog, it is not certain whether the unwinding of the
ACNC will pass through the Senate, which is not controlled by the
The Future of the Charities Act
The future of the Charities Act also remains unclear.
On 5 March 2014 Senator Fifield withdrew the Government's
proposal to delay the start of the Charities Act and said "the
measure is obviously no longer appropriate because the 1 January
commencement date has now passed and the Act is in operation".
The Federal Opposition touted the withdrawal as a success with
Acting Shadow Assistant Treasurer Ed Husic saying "the
Charities Act is safe, for now".
However, it is likely that the Government will seek to repeal
the Act and the Federal Opposition has noted that it will need to
work with the sector to pressure the Government in order to keep
We will continue to keep you informed of updates, however until
the ACNC is abolished, charities will need to continue to comply
with all requirements, including lodgement of their
Annual Information Statements.
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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