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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 11103

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP (Mackellar) (22:01): It is almost without precedent that a minister at the table should present amendments to a bill of the complexity of the ACNC bill without explaining what the amendments are about. There are 2½ pages of amendments and a supplementary explanatory memorandum of 15 pages, so we know why the Assistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation has not explained what they do—simply, I do not think he comprehends what they do. The supplementary explanatory memorandum says this about amendments (1) to (4):

To ensure the ongoing independence of the sector in any future governance standards, amendments 1 and 2 make a minor change to the objects clause of the Division on governance standards to ensure that the standards are to be developed in accordance with the object of this ACNC Bill, which include, amongst other things, to support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative Australian not-for-profit sector.

The only thing is, the whole tenor of the bill does not support those words. It is designed in essence to turn those charitable and not-for-profit institutions—some 400,000 of them across Australia—from non-taxpaying entities doing things that are good for society into taxpaying entities. At the end of the day, this government will do anything to prevent what happens with regard to those people who are of good conscience and good heart who develop a voluntary culture and want to assist their fellow human beings in their community. The government wants to turn them into taxpaying entities. Hence regulation after regulation after regulation.

Even the Scrutiny of Bills Committee points out, as I said in my speech on the second reading, that this legislation provides for the power to make regulations that should properly be in the primary legislation. Again we see in these amendments that the government is trying to fetter the power of the regulation making framework to make it look more palatable. The fact of the matter is it has not yet been worked out, and it is punishment at every turn for volunteers.

As I pointed out in my second reading speech, 1.3 million people over the age of 50—this is relevant to my shadow portfolio of seniors—were volunteers in charities, according to the 2011 census. These are people of good heart who do not want to be fillers-out of forms, who do not want to be made subject to the penalties that are entailed in this form of legislation. People who are skilled at administrative levels, who are directors of corporations, under this legislation will be subject to harsher penalties than they would as a director of a simple business which is incorporated under the Corporations Act.

We have someone at the table who is purporting to be responsible for these amendments but he cannot even tell us why they have chosen to bring in these amendments and what they mean. There are 2½ pages of amendments and 15 pages of explanatory memorandum. Again and again we see incompetent drafting—bad instructions for the drafters, bad understanding by the government of what it is trying to impose on the Australian people. So here we are, after the regular time for the adjournment, starting to look at amendments which should properly have been explained by the person at the table who was responsible for so doing. The supplementary explanatory memorandum says:

This will protect the independence of registered entities …

Would they need protection if this bill were not passed? No. Should we be successful in being elected, this legislation will be for the scrap heap and a good system will be brought in by the shadow minister, who outlined that earlier.