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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9279

Mr BUCHHOLZ (WrightGovernment Whip) (11:58): I appreciate the opportunity to stand in the House and speak once again on an issue that touches me deeply. Before coming to this House I was a state board director of Lifeline Queensland and spent many hours compiling and centralising the governance procedures for Lifeline Queensland. I know only full well, as does the other side of the House, that our state and our nation benefit enormously from the very diligent work of those who volunteer in our communities. If we were to put a price on those who volunteer in our communities under the banner of 'non-for-profits', it would be somewhere in the vicinity of $14.6 billion. If you were to capture all of our surf-lifesaving clubs, all of our rural fire brigades, all of the charities that are more well known, that $14.6 billion would be amortised across local, state and federal levels, if they were to cough up. Our nation is a richer place for ensuring that we have a vibrant and cost-effective charity and not-for-profit sector.

In the electorate of Wright, I am hosting the Wright Community Contribution Awards. We will be asking those in our community who do volunteer to nominate a person that they work alongside to be recognised. I know that people who volunteer in the community do not do it because they seek recognition; they do it because they want a stronger and a better community.

When the ACNC bill was introduced into the House it was heavy-handed. We opposed it when it was put up by the then Gillard government. We must remember the environment when this bill was introduced. It was introduced when the dysfunctional Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government was in office. It was introduced around the time of the $2.1 billion pink batts installation program, where half of the program was spent on putting batts into ceilings and the other half of the program was spent pulling them out. That was hardly a sensible platform for making rational decisions about cutting red tape. This bill was fostered and grew at a time when the budgeting and forecasting capacity of those on the other side of the House was normally out by about $20 billion every year. A totally dysfunctional time for the government.

I spoke on this bill when it was first put up. We spoke about the heavy-handedness of the bill. I want to draw the House's attention to some of the comments about concerns about the bill that were made by stakeholders. Predominantly, the majority of them went to the fact that the premise of this bill was that we were going to cut red tape. In order to cut red tape we were going to create another bureaucracy. Then that bureaucracy would talk to another bureaucracy, the state bureaucracies, who would then be required or asked to reduce their compliance levels. It is absolutely barbaric! I will take you to the comments of the Housing Industry Association. It considered that it is:

… conceptually difficult to reduce red tape by adding red tape, which is what adding new Commonwealth regulation on top of existing State regulation will do. Only if States vacate the field is there any hope of reducing the administrative burden on Charities and NFPs.

To date no state or no territory has signed up to reducing or letting go their compliance measures. So, by default, this bill has not and can never reach its objectives. Yes, we have two in-principle supports: one from the state of New South Wales and the other one from the Northern Territory. But the previous speaker's own territory, the ACT, has not signed up to this. They are not prepared to forgo their entitlement as a state to regulate in some of these sectors in order for the Commonwealth to reduce the red tape. The Independent Schools Council commented:

Independent schools will be required to report much of the information to the ACNC that they currently report to the Department of Education and Workplace Relation (DEEWR), as well as to state education authorities. Setting aside the issue of duplication with state authorities, if an information-sharing agreement is not reached between the ACNC and DEEWR the ACNC will effectively serve as an additional layer of regulation and red tape for independent schools …

I cannot see how, by any definition, this has been a practical piece of legislation.

In closing, this piece of legislation was fundamentally flawed from the word 'go'. We went to an election saying that that we would get rid of it. None of the states have signed up to it. None of the states are going to sign up to it. We will be moving to get rid of the ACNC.