Advocacy Updates

Update – Friday 5 July 2019

Roundtable Policy Updates for members

Philanthropy Australia looks forward to hosting Roundtable Policy Updates for members to debrief on the recent federal election outcome and what it means for Australia’s charitable sector, an overview of Philanthropy Australia’s key policy and advocacy priorities over the next three years and a look at the upcoming Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit, scheduled for 18 – 19 September in Canberra.

The Policy Updates will take place as follows:

  • South Australia: 30 July
  • Queensland: 31 July
  • Victoria: 19 August
  • Australian Capital Territory: 26 August
  • New South Wales: 29 August

Please look out for invitations from your Philanthropy Australia State Manager.

Update – Monday 27 May 2019

New Ministerial appointments under re-elected Morrison Government

After the re-election of the Federal Morrison Government on 18 May, the Prime Minister announced his new Ministry. The reshuffle has seen most relevant Ministers related to the work of Philanthropy Australia change, please see the list of new Ministers below:

Ministry Who’s in Who’s out
Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters Senator The Hon Zed Seselja

Position retained post-election.

Senator The Hon Zed Seselja The Hon Michael Sukkar

The Hon Stuart Robert MP (moved to Minister for NDIS and Government Services).

Minister for Families and Social Services  Senator the Hon Anne Rushton Minister Paul Fletcher MP (moved to Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts). 


Philanthropy Australia launched a media release formally congratulating the re-elected Morrison Government and acknowledging the first dedicated appointment of Ministerial oversight of the charitable sector, a positive step that PA welcomes. You can see the media release uploaded on our website here.  

You can see a copy of the full Second Morrison Ministry, as announced on 26 May here.

Update - Wednesday 13 May 2019

Key party responses to Philanthropy Australia’s federal election policy priorities

In the lead up to the election Philanthropy Australia wrote to all political parties represented in federal parliament seeking their support for our top 10 policy priorities for a more giving Australia. You can read the formal responses received from three parties below:

Federal Government response from Senator Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance, with responsibility for the ACNC

Federal Opposition election policy announcement for the Australian charitable sector, announced by The Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits

Federal Australian Greens response Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Spokesperson on Families and Communities

Update - Friday 3 May 2019

Key outcomes from Philanthropy Australia's federal election rountables

Watch the below video with Sarah Wickham, Philanthropy Australia’s Policy and Research Manager, and Krystian Seibert, Philanthropy Australia’s Policy Advisor, discussing the key outcomes from Philanthropy Australia’s recent federal election roundtable events with Government and Opposition spokespeople:


Below is a collection of media stories discussing Philanthropy Australia’s 10 policy priorities for a more giving Australia:

  • The Australian: Sarah Davies discussing charities right to advocate in on 17 April here.
  • ABC News: Sarah Davies discussing the giving post Notre Dame and our federal election priorities here on evening of 17 May.
  • ABC Radio: Sarah Wickham discussing giving in Australia with Libby Gore and answering talk back callers on breakfast radio on 27 May here.
  • Pro Bono: an article from Sarah Wickham on 16 April introducing our federal election policy priorities and an article from Krystian Seibert on 2 May discussing a couple of our policies in further detail.

Update - Wednesday 17 April 2019

Federal election roundtables with government and opposition

On Monday and Tuesday Philanthropy Champions and Impact Members joined us for roundtable discussions advocating for the future of Australian philanthropy with The Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits and The Hon Paul Fletcher, Minister for Families and Social Services.
 


We also shared Philanthropy Australia’s agenda this federal election with Pro Bono yesterday outlining why this election is the most critical for Australian philanthropy over the last century. You can read the article here.

Update - Thursday 11 April 2019

Top 10 Policy Priorities for 'A More Giving Australia'

Today Philanthropy Australia launched our Top 10 Policy Priorities for A More Giving Australia. This federal election we have set out 10 policy reforms that federal government can implement to take advantage of the impending $2.4 trillion intergenerational wealth transfer to supercharge the next generation of philanthropy, promote a flourishing civil society and support vibrant and inclusive communities.

There are six short-term priorities which can be realistically achieved within 1 – 2 years of the 2019 federal election, with minimal budgetary impact, and four medium to long-term priorities, which have a time horizon of up to five years and has a higher budgetary impact.

For all information relating to our federal election campaign, please visit the Philanthropy Australia 2019 Federal Election Hub.

Update - Monday 18 March 2019

Federal Labor’s commitment to exempt charities and philanthropic entities from policy change to dividend imputation arrangements

On 12 March the Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits, the Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, wrote a letter to Philanthropy Australia and our members confirming Federal Labor’s commitment to exempt charities and philanthropic entities from their policy changes to dividend imputation (franking credits) arrangements. You can see a copy of the letter here that was sent in our Philanthropy Weekly e-newsletter on 13 March 2019.

Update - Wednesday 13 February 2019

Senate Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century releases Report

On 19 June 2018 the Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century was set up to inquire and report on the current framework of fundraising regulation for charities and options for reform.

Philanthropy Australia put in a submission to the Committee and on 29 October 2018 we gave evidence at the Melbourne committee hearing. Our position was in support of the #FixFundraising coalition. As one of the founding members of the group, Philanthropy Australia strongly recommended that the Federal Government actively support and assist with the development of a nationally-consistent, contemporary and fit-for-purpose charitable fundraising regime. You can follow details relating to the #FixFundraising campaign here.

On 14 February the Committee handed down a unanimous report clearly finding the current fundraising regulations are an unworkable impost on Australia’s charities. It also recommended that the government respond to the Report of the Review Panel of the ACNC Acts (handed down almost 6 months ago) that made numerous recommendations that would cut red tape for charitable fundraising. However, despite numerous previous inquiries examining the fundraising regulations there are still no results, we are disappointed that there is no clearly identified way forward in this report.

On 15 February the #FixFundraising coalition launched a joint media announcement outlining our concerns around the Senate Committee’s inaction in resolving this issue, despite noting it as a serious concern for the charitable sector.

Update - Thursday 20 December 2018

Philanthropy Australia’s 2019 key Policy and Advocacy Priorities

Earlier this month the Philanthropy Australia Policy and Research Committee approved the following key Policy and Advocacy priorities for Philanthropy Australia in 2019:

2019 Federal Election Campaign engagement
2019 Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit (18 and 19 September in Canberra)
Development of a new three-year Government Relations Strategy, after the election of the new government
Scoping of a blueprint for the next decade of Philanthropy leadership in Australia

We look forward to communicating with members on these key projects in the new year. Should you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to email Sarah Wickham, our Policy and Research Manager on swickham@philanthropy.org.au

Update - Wednesday 19 December 2018

ACNC Review: Government Response

Philanthropy Australia has been informed that the Federal Government is working on the Government Response to the ACNC Review Report which was tabled to parliament on 22 August.

This week Philanthropy Australia sent follow up communications to both the Assistant Treasurer overseeing the Government Response, the Hon Senator Zed Seselja, and key Treasury Department officials, outlining Philanthropy Australia’s position on a number of key recommendations from the ACNC Review Report and offering the opportunity to meet with the Assistant Minister’s office to further discuss our position. This letter is based upon the Philanthropy Australia ACNC Review submission which you can read here.

Update - Wednesday 28 November 2018

Electoral Laws Pass the House of Representatives

On 27 November the House of Representatives passed the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill. This marks the end of a significant advocacy effort by the Philanthropy Australia community, to secure the introduction of a robust and transparent system for regulating Australian elections without stifling the ability of charities to advocate for better policies, and the ability for philanthropists to fund their advocacy work.

Philanthropy Australia was proud to play a role in supporting the social sector to secure a meaningful outcome, most notably through our work as part of the Hands Off Our Charities alliance.

You can read Philanthropy Australia’s final media release welcoming the new laws here and key quotes from the parliamentary debate on the bill here.

Update - Wednesday 22 November 2018

The Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill 2017 Passes the Senate

On Thursday 15 November the Senate debated and passed the EFDR Bill and we anticipate the Bill to be passed by the House of Representatives on the week commencing 26 November, to be enacted for the 2019 Federal Election.

Philanthropy Australia publicly supported the final draft of this Bill, which provides for a robust and transparent system for regulating elections, including third parties and those who fund them. We believe that the Bill now represents this objective in a sensible and proportionate manner, and we welcome its passage through the Senate.

You can read Philanthropy Australia’s media statement here and the Senate debate transcript here.

Update - Wednesday 21 September 2018

Philanthropy Australia gives evidence at the Senate Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21st

On Monday 29 October Philanthropy Australia gave evidence at the Select Committee on Charity Fundraising Inquiry supporting our submission. Philanthropy Australia has been a member of the #FixFundraising campaign since establishment in 2016 and our submission supports the work of this campaign to improve the state of fundraising regulation in Australia by developing a nationally-consistent, contemporary and fit-for-purpose charitable fundraising regime through amendments to the Australian Consumer Law.

You can read Philanthropy Australia’s government submission here.

Update - Tuesday 16 September 2018

Electoral Act Changes

On 5 October Philanthropy Australia gave evidence to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM), which conducted an Inquiry into amendments to the proposed Electoral Bill.

On 15 October the JSCEM its latest advisory report, based on the recent public inquiry. Philanthropy Australia’s evidence is positively represented in the report, with our main concerns being addressed in the latest inquiry, we are now just waiting on some further modifications. You can read Philanthropy Australia’s submission to the Inquiry here and the latest JSCEM report here.

Philanthropy Australia anticipates that the Bill will go to Parliament in October and will be enacted for the upcoming federal election.

For background, below is a short timeline on how this proposed Bill has evolved to date:

  • In December 2017 the Government introduced the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill 2017 to manage the influence of foreign donations on Australian politics as part of the JSCEM review of the 2016 federal election
  • The Bill was referred to JSCEM for inquiry and report and JSCEM undertook a detailed inquiry into the Bill, receiving over 200 submissions from a range of stakeholders (including Philanthropy Australia and some of our members)
  • JSCEM issued a detailed report of the Bill in April 2018. The Government has now responded to JSCEM’s recommendations by proposing amendments to the Bill.
  • The Ministers for Finance and the Public Services and the Special Minister for State wrote to the JSCEM asking it to consider whether those draft amendments satisfactorily addressed the JSCEM’s previous recommendations
  • The Department of Finance indicated that the supplementary parliamentary inquiry is the process by which the revised amendments should be exposed for public scrutiny and by which public comment should be gathered. This inquiry took place between 19 – 27 September. Philanthropy Australia and some of our members also engaged in this additional inquiry
  • As mentioned above, the latest JSCEM advisory report was released on 15 October
  • Upon the conclusion of the second inquiry, Philanthropy Australia anticipates that this Bill will be passed before the end of the 2018 Parliamentary Sitting Calendar, to be enacted for the upcoming 2019 federal election

Update - Thursday 30 August 2018 

NSW Electoral Funding Act 2018

Philanthropy Australia member, the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network, has prepared this guidance document to assist philanthropic funders to understand the Electoral Funding Act 2018 (NSW) and to provide a general picture of how the laws impact upon donors. It is not a substitute for legal advice on the specific circumstances of individual trusts and foundations.

For more information on the rules, check the Electoral Commission NSW website or seek independent legal advice.

This briefing note relates to:

  • NSW State Elections, not local government elections
  • Philanthropic funders who fund charities and not for profit organisations, not funders of political candidates

In this document, references to “charities” mean “doing” organisations which might undertake work to improve policies for the environment. References to “funders” or “donors” relate to philanthropic trusts, foundations and individuals which make grants to support the work of “doing” organisations.

The final section of the briefing note suggests an approach to advocacy funding, in the context of the 2019 NSW state election.

You  can download a full copy of the guidance document here: nsw-election-rule-philanthropy-briefing-august2018.

Update - Wednesday 29 August 2018

DGR Reform Submission

Overview 

Treasury is seeking submissions on the proposed design for the following components of the Government’s package of deductible gift recipient (DGR) reforms announced on 5 December 2017:

  • the requirement for non-government organisations with DGR status to register as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) from 1 July 2019
  • transition arrangements to support existing organisations with DGR status to register as a charity with the ACNC
  • the Commissioner of Taxation’s discretion to exempt organisations with DGR status from the requirement to register as a charity in limited circumstances
  • the abolition of certain public fund requirements

The Government’s package of DGR reforms will strengthen the DGR governance arrangements, reduce administrative complexity and ensure appropriate oversight of entities with DGR status.

The purpose of public consultation is to seek stakeholder views on the proposed implementation of the DGR reforms covered in the consultation paper. Submissions for this consultation will close on 11.59pm (AEST) Friday 21 September 2018.

The Australian Taxation Office and the ACNC will release guidance materials on the practical application of the proposed implementation of the DGR reforms in due course.

Philanthropy Australia will be drafting a submission on behalf of members and the draft will be ready for member feedback on Friday 14 September (one week before the submission deadline). Should you be interested in providing feedback on the submission please contact Sarah Wickham on swickham@philanthropy.org.au or you can also post your feedback on the Policy Submission section of the Better Giving Hub.

Update - Tuesday 28 August 2018

New Social Sector Ministers

Please see copy of the full Ministry here.

Update - Monday 27 August 2018

ACNC Review

Overview

The not-for-profit sector is large, diverse and makes immensely important contributions to the community.

Charities have annual revenue of $143 billion, or over 8 per cent of Australia’s GDP.  They employ more than 1.3 million people and engage 3 million Australians in volunteering their time and effort to helping others. This could increase to 6 million volunteers when the broader not for-profit sector is considered. A recent assessment identified approximately 257,000 non-profit organisations operating in Australia.

Australia’s 55,000 registered charities are regulated by the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) under the current not-for-profit regulatory framework. This framework does not extend to other not-for-profits.

Australia is well served by its charities and not-for-profit sector and with close to five years of proportionate government oversight and regulation through the ACNC, the overwhelming majority of Australian charities are considered to be well-governed, operating with sound financial management, and are worthy of the trust and confidence of the Australian community.

The Government is committed to making Australia’s not-for-profit sector stronger and recognises the crucial role the ACNC plays in ensuring the sector continues to thrive.

Purpose

The review into the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) legislation enabled the Government to meet its statutory obligation that a review of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Consequential and Transitional) Act 2012 be undertaken after their first five years of operation.  A report on the review’s findings and recommendations is required to be made to the Government by 3 June 2018. This report was laid before each House of the Parliament on 22 August 2018.

The final report makes 30 recommendations and has four parts:

  • Objects , Functions and Powers
  • Regulatory Framework
  • Red tape Reduction
  • Additional amendments

Outcome

You can read a copy of the full report here and all the public submission made during the review process, including Philanthropy Australia’s submission here.

You can read Philanthropy Australia’s analysis on the ACNC Review here.

Justice Connect also developed a short video clip summarising the key elements of the Review here.

Shortly we will post our analysis on the report, but from an initial read there are no concerns.

Update - Wednesday 18 April 2018

Electoral Act Changes

Krystian Seibert, Policy Adviser, updates you on the progress of the Electoral Act Changes and other Philanthropy Australia news. 

Resources

Open Letter regarding Electoral Act changes in the Australian Financial Review (1 March 2018)

Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matter report into the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 (9 April 2018)

Article by Krystian Seibert in The Conversation – ‘New electoral law could still hobble charities’ (13 April 2018)

Article in The Guardian – Labor demands charities' advocacy be exempted from foreign donations ban (16 April 2018)

If Members have any questions about this advocacy update, they should contact Sarah Davies at policy@philanthropy.org.au

Update - Thursday 15 March 2018

Federal Oppostion Announcement on Dividend Imputation

As many Philanthropy Australia Members will be aware, the Federal Opposition has made an announcement regarding proposed changes to dividend imputation arrangements.

The Federal Opposition is proposing to end the refund of excess dividend imputation credits (also known as refundable franking credits).

However, income tax exempt charities (as well as income tax exempt trusts and foundations) will be permanently exempt from the change - meaning that they would still have access to refundable franking credits.

Philanthropy Australia is aware how important refundable franking credits are as a source of income for trusts and foundations, and that without access to them, the level of granting would be reduced.

We have therefore strongly made the case that existing refundable franking credit arrangements should not be changed for trusts and foundations, including raising this issue with the major parties before the last election.

Resources

If Members have any questions about this advocacy update, they should contact Krystian Seibert (03 9662 9299 or kseibert@philanthropy.org.au).

Update - Wednesday 7 March 2018

Electoral Act Changes

As many Philanthropy Australia Members will be aware, the Australian Government is proposing some very concerning changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, which will have major implications for charities undertaking public advocacy and for their funders.

The following short video update from Philanthropy Australia's Advocacy & Insight Manager, Krystian Seibert, outlines Philanthropy Australia's efforts to oppose these changes and highlights how Members can assist by contacting elected representatives they may have a relationship with.

Open Letter in The Australian Financial Review

Last Thursday we published an Open Letter about the Electoral Act changes in the Australian Financial Review, which can be viewed here. It was signed by 66 philanthropists and philanthropic organisations - thank you to all the signatories, the letter is a great example of our collective voice as a movement. On Friday, an opinion piece about the changes by Martyn Myer AO and Jill Reichstein OAM was also published in The Age, reinforcing the messages in the Open Letter. It can be viewed here.

Two Page Briefing for Members

Philanthropy Australia is encouraging our Members to contact elected representatives that they may have a relationship with, to convey their concerns about the changes. We've prepared a two page briefing with key information for Members to assist with this, which can be accessed here.

If Members have any questions about this advocacy update, they should contact Krystian Seibert (03 9662 9299 or kseibert@philanthropy.org.au).

Update - Monday 19 February 2018

Implications of Electoral Act Changes

Philanthropy Australia CEO, Sarah Davies, and Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre, Hugh de Kretser, discuss the implications of the proposed Electoral Act changes.

Update - Wednesday 14 February 2018

ACNC Review

The Australian Government has announced a review of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) legislation.

The following short video update from Philanthropy Australia's Advocacy & Insight Manager, Krystian Seibert, outlines Philanthropy Australia's engagement with the review, which will include preparing a draft submission and seeking input and feedback from our Members.

Resources

If Members have any questions about this advocacy update, they should contact Krystian Seibert (03 9662 9299 or kseibert@philanthropy.org.au).

Update - Wednesday 13 December 2017

The Australian Government made three announcements which impact upon philanthropy in the week of 4 December:

  • Setting out reform proposals for the Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) framework

  • The introduction to legislation to ban foreign donations, which will prevent international philanthropy funding advocacy activities by charities

  • The appointment of the Hon Dr Gary Johns as the new ACNC Commissioner

The following two short video updates from Philanthropy Australia's Advocacy & Insight Manager, Krystian Seibert, outline Philanthropy Australia's  response to these announcements - Members are encouraged to view them.

Deductible Gift Recipient Reform

 

Resources

 

Foreign Donations Ban and Appointment of ACNC Commissioner

 

Resources

If Members have any questions about this advocacy update, they should contact Krystian Seibert (03 9662 9299 or kseibert@philanthropy.org.au).

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