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Philanthropy Australia secures positive outcome enabling the charitable sectors right to advocate

December 04th, 2018

A number of Philanthropy Australia members played a key role in helping the Electoral Act Amendment (Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill) 2018 pass through Federal Parliament last week and we would like to thank you.

Most notably the members who signed the Philanthropy Australia Open Letter, published in the Financial Review on 1 March 2018, which enabled our collective voice to be taken seriously by elected officials.

Our advocacy efforts were reflected in the parliamentary debate on the Bill, key quotes include:

Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Federal Member for Fenner (27 November):

  • “I also acknowledge the members of the Hands Off Our Charities alliance, with whom I’ve worked extensively in my capacity as shadow minister for charities and not-for-profits. I would note that this is the first time that either major party has had a shadow minister for charities and not-for-profits. This process has reinforced the importance of having that position – not just for us; it’s something I would urge for those on the other side of the House”
  • “There have been two open letters to the Prime Minister complaining about the attacks on charities… The most recent of these letters was signed by a plethora of community groups, including… Philanthropy Australia… expressing their concerns about the original version of the Bill… [with] charities that seek policy and other reforms through a public process being recast as political entities engaged in the electoral process”

Mr Andrew Giles MP, Federal Member for Scullin (27 November):

  • “I pay tribute to those civil society organisations who campaigned and engaged so effectively over the duration of the journey... those groups that came together in the Hands Off Our Charities alliance... to establish a set of red line principles that informed by consideration of the provisions before us and I think shaped ultimately the disposition of the senators considering this bill too”

Mr Luke Gosling OAM, MP, Federal Member for Solomon (27 November):

  • “The government’s bill created such a concern that a number of our trusted charities and not-for-profits formed the Hands Off Our Charities alliance to oppose the changes. The [first] … bill would have captured a whole range of worthy organisations – charities, churches, community groups – in a maze of regulations and obstacles”

Senator Jane Hume, Victoria (15 November):

  • “Very encouraging words indeed [from] Philanthropy Australia: we welcome the manner in which the Australian Government has responded to the recommendations of the previous JSCEM Inquiry into the Bill”
  • “Ms Jill Reichstein from the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network said they congratulated the government for listening and responding, resulting in a significantly improved Bill”
  • “A joint submission…from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, the Reichstein Foundation, the Ian Potter Foundation, the Australian Communities Foundation, the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, the Myer Foundation and the Sidney Myer Fund collectively said: We welcome the way in which the Australian Government has responded to the recommendations of the previous JSCEM Inquiry into the Bill. They also said that the proposed amendments, which were the subject of the inquiry, were therefore very welcome and addressed many concerns raised about this bill”

This type of advocacy is time consuming and resource intensive. Philanthropy Australia is only able to achieve these outcomes for the sector thanks to the continued support and commitment of our Philanthropy Champions who fund our Advocacy and Thought Leadership efforts. 

The passing of this Bill reflects the strength of our democracy, with parliamentarians working collaboratively with civil society to achieve an effective, bipartisan outcome which will benefit public policy development for all Australians.

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