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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 8591

Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (11:06): I thank the minister for her answer. There is continual discussion around whether the bill defined enough the objects that the commissioner was responsible for upholding, so I very much appreciate that clarification.

I want to go to issues around the basic religious charities. Basic religious charities are recognised as complex entities that have evolved over time in a way that is different from other not-for-profit organisations. They have been given some special status in these bills and, as a result, some different reporting thresholds and responsibilities apply to this type of entity. Some issues were raised during the committee's inquiries. The Australian Greens are still concerned that these arrangements may not provide sufficient requirements to ensure the accountability and transparency and hence maintain public trust and confidence in these organisations. The amendments introduced in the House of Representatives even further relax the non-financial-reporting thresholds for basic religious entities that operate for schools. While we are not seeking during this stage to amend the legislation in this regard, we would like a commitment that these thresholds will be reviewed when the legislation is reviewed. We would like a commitment that these thresholds will be included as part of that review.