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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9281


Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (12:09): There has never been a level of bureaucracy Labor has not loved. This one is no different. First and foremost, I think the job the not-for-profit sector does should be recognised. Let me be as mercenary as possible here. Every government, regardless of ideology, loves the not-for-profit sector, because we get such good value for money out of them—$14.6 billion annually in services provided. If a government had to provide that you could probably treble the cost.

We know that people who work in this sector do so primarily because they love the people they assist and the role the organisation plays. They are prepared to deliver long after they have finished being paid, if they are paid at all. They worry not so much about the bottom line but about the delivery of the service—and that is the difference with these organisations. The Salvation Army boss in Townsville, David Twivey, is always telling me that 81½ cents in every dollar is delivered to the customer, the person in need. A major goal for everyone, especially in this place, is being able to push in there and get the best value we can for the taxpayer.

The one thing that these organisations have in common is their service to the community. Not one organisation or individual chooses to become involved in this sector to do paperwork or submit forms. These forms take many forms. The thing they have in common is that they are keeping some public servant somewhere in Australia busy. They take valuable resources from the provision of services to complete, compile, format, authorise correctly, send off and correct if necessary, and then the next cycle must start. As an example, there is an aged-care provider based in Townsville. There are similar groups in Ayr and Ingham, which are about one hour either side of Townsville. They were struggling with their administration in both of those places, so they were brought under one roof for administration purposes—three organisations with one administration. They sent their returns away to the last government and received a notice back saying that only one return had been received. They said, 'That's right: we're one organisation.' They were told, 'No, you've got three organisations: the one in Ingham, the one in Ayr and the one in Townsville.' They said, 'No, there are three organisations that are administered locally by one administration.' They were told, 'No, you have to do returns for the three organisations.' They said, 'But the return will be exactly the same for the three organisations,' to which the reply came, 'We don't care. You have to submit the returns.' So they submitted the returns and they got three letters back, posted individually, all the way through to get the thing done. That is a ridiculous notion.

Kevin Andrews visited my electorate for a series of forums with the not-for-profit sector. We asked at every turn, 'Who loves to do paperwork?' No-one put their hand up. We asked, 'Who wants to spend their time in the office doing administration?' No-one put their hand up. We asked them who wanted to do the provision of service to the people in most need. They all put their hands up. That is what we are trying to achieve here. It is all about the service delivery.

We should be getting out of the way. If someone is going to do the wrong thing, they will do it. Every system has a way through it, and someone who is going to commit a crime will do it. But loading up the entire sector with tonnes of red tape and paperwork which invariably never gets read is no way to police this sector. There is a story going around about one of the big finance companies in the US who, for one calendar year in the early eighties, approved everything. They did not worry about credit checks or anything like that; they just approved everything. Their delinquency rates were exactly the same as if they had put everyone through their credit scoring system. It is a stretch to connect the two things, but people are generally honest. Generally speaking, people are honest. If you have a system and someone wants to create some mischief, they will do it, but, by and large, they are one in every 100,000 people. What the previous government did with the ACNC was load up a sector with millions and millions of dollars worth of paperwork to get that one person in every 100,000. It is wrong to do it. Both sides of this parliament love the not-for-profit sector, but only one side trusts it. I thank the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Randall ): Before calling the member for Werriwa, I alert the chamber to the fact that there could be a division before too long. The question is that the motion be agreed to.