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The Coalition's plan to encourage greater philanthropy and strengthen Australia's charities and community groups



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JOINT PRESS RELEASE

THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. KEVIN ANDREWS MHR, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES, HOUSING AND HUMAN SERVICES

THE COALITION’S PLAN TO ENCOURAGE GREATER PHILANTHROPY AND STRENGTHEN AUSTRALIA’S CHARITIES AND COMMUNITY GROUPS

The Coalition will encourage a culture of philanthropy and giving in Australian life through re-establishing the Community Business Partnership to assist Australian charities and community groups by removing unnecessary red tape and costs.

Philanthropic endeavours strengthen and empower communities, harness the inherent virtue of Australians and encourage a greater sense of purpose and belonging across communities and incomes.

Our volunteer services, welfare, environmental, sporting and community groups are living testimony to the Coalition’s belief in empowered communities. We believe that a community that freely gives of its time and its financial resources is a community with a stronger social fabric and more social capital.

We don’t necessarily want government to do less for people but we certainly want people to have the capacity to do more for themselves because that’s the way that stronger communities are built.

Increasing reporting obligation, rising cost of living and the impact of the GFC on investments, have all had an impact on the charitable and volunteer sector, with philanthropic contributions tapering off in recent years.

A Coalition government would, within six months of election, re-establish the Community Business Partnership to advise government on encouraging a culture of philanthropy and giving.

The Partnership, like its earlier incarnation, will encourage prominent Australians from the business and community sectors to work together for the benefit of the community.

One of the great successes of the previous Community Business Partnership was its initiative to create a new structure for planned giving in 2001. Almost 1,000 Prescribed Private Funds, now called Private Ancillary Funds, have been created since 2001 with $2.7 billion committed irrevocably to the community sector. In 2009-10 almost $200 million was directly distributed to charities and other worthy organisations by these funds.

The Coalition will also reduce the regulatory burden on charities and has charged the Coalition Deregulation Taskforce with reducing the regulatory burden on charities and community groups. The Taskforce, headed by Senator Arthur Sinodinos AO, will reduce red tape across business and community groups by $1 billion each year.

The ever-increasing regulatory burden faced by the charitable sector means more resources are needed in the back office, to fill out forms and to engage in what the sector calls “reporting for reporting sake.”

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The Coalition supports transparency and accountability of public funds. We also support simplicity and efficiency. The charity and not-for-profit sector has a long history of responsible governance and management. The simplification of reporting and contracting arrangements will mean agencies will be able to redeploy resources from the back office to the front line, where they can deliver the vital services the community needs.

The Coalition understands that Australian charities will be burdened by increasing need and increasing costs because of the carbon tax. Rescinding the carbon tax will be the first order of business for the next Coalition government.

In keeping with our commitment to reduce red tape on the not-for-profit sector, a Coalition government will shift the focus of the new Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission away from endless compliance and regulation to one that encourages innovation, education and best practice in the sector.

15 June 2012