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Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Page: 6063


Mr CIOBO (Moncrieff) (13:56): If you wanted a better example of the philosophical divide between that side of the chamber and this side of the chamber, I think it is best encapsulated in the legislation that is before the House today. The Charities Bill 2013 and Charities (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 really go to the core of that philosophical divide between the approach of the social democrats on that side and those of us who believe in the supremacy of the individual and the fact that the individual reigns supreme over the state, which is very much on this side of the chamber with perhaps a couple of exclusions—in particular the Greens, of course, who sit up in the crossbenches there.

The reality is that this bill is not a good bill. The coalition do not support it. We will repeal this legislation should we be fortunate enough to get elected on 14 September. At its core this bill represents another very large step in the ever-growing demand by the Labor Party to see more bureaucrats, more bureaucracy and a greater reach for state power. It is the coalition that virtually has a monopoly in this place on defending the opportunity for individuals and charities to stand up against the state. It is the Labor Party that hold at its core the view that the very best way any government can go about assisting the community sector or an individual is for the government to ensure that there are new regulations in place and a whole new mechanism which rolls out bureaucracy that will apply in this particular instance to the charitable sector.

This is nothing new. We have looked at this before. The previous coalition, when we were in government under John Howard, looked at this sector in great detail and took a number of decisions about what needed to happen. But it goes back even further than that. The definition of 'charities' dates back to 1601. It has been a common law definition that has applied since 1601—over 400 years—and that has well and truly stood the test of time. Yet, despite the fact that there are 400 years of precedent, the reality is that the Labor Party gets elected and, lo and behold, we have a new minister who says: 'We know better than the last 400 years of common law. We know better about what is good for the charitable sector.' The simple fact is that, in attempting to codify common law definitions of charities and put in place a whole new bureaucracy that applies to charities, the Labor Party will succeed in doing nothing more than applying a whole raft of regulation and bureaucracy to a sector that, frankly, does not need it.

If there is one part of Australian society that does not need extra red tape, it has to be the volunteers who work hard in the charitable sector. On this side of the House we understand the demands for the charitable sector. We know the volunteers who roll up their sleeves and go about undertaking the work they do to make Australia a better society. We know they have been working harder in the last six years than they had to for a great deal of time. The reality is that those people do so because of their passion for the cause. They do not do so because they have got a bureaucrat in Canberra who says to them what they must do.

The last thing they need is to divert their attention away from worthy recipients of charitable sectors towards other activities like red-tape compliance. That is precisely what this bill does. The simple fact is that there are some great charities out there. I think about one, for example, called beyondblue. Beyondblue, as we know, is chaired by a high-profile former Liberal, and I do not think that there is any demand for them to suddenly go about changing their name since the comments from the Prime Minister last week.

Debate interrupted.