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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 11104

Mr BRADBURY (LindsayAssistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation) (22:06): I must set the record straight. What we just heard was a grievous misrepresentation of what this bill and these amendments propose. The member for Mackellar indicated that somehow this was a part of the government's plan to bring non-taxpaying entities into the tax net. What a load of rubbish. The only way someone could say that was the conclusion to be drawn is if they were deliberately misleading people or if they had not read the bill or any of the amendments. I repeat: this does not in any way seek to change the taxation status of any entity. Let me be clear about that. Any entity that is currently entitled to a tax concession, whether they have deductible gift recipient status, tax-exempt status, GST concessions or any of the other concessions under PBI status, will not be affected by virtue of this bill or these amendments. So let us put that scare campaign to one side.

For the benefit of members, if this is a matter that is of such great interest to those opposite, I will advise the House of what the amendments do address. As opposed to what has been suggested, these amendments are not about correcting the results of poor drafting instructions. They are about responding to the product of genuine consultation. I make no apologies for that, because I am sick and tired of coming into this place and hearing those opposite say that the consultation that occurs is simply lip-service. It is not lip-service. We have had genuine consultation, legitimate issues have been raised by a number of groups, and we are responding to the product of that consultation.

To correct, once again, what the member for Sturt had to say in relation to basic religious charities, the fact is that parishes will be exempt from this regime. Basic religious charities will be exempt. These amendments seek to extend that exemption so that, where a basic religious charity is also engaged in running other funds that might have deductible gift recipient status and have an annual turnover of less than $250,000, those entities will not lose the value of that exemption under the basic religious charity exemption. That is something that was put to us by, amongst others, the Catholic Bishops Conference. It was an issue that was the subject of ongoing consultation with stakeholders, and we have responded. As far as I am aware, from the discussions I have had with representatives of the Catholic Church and other churches, we have addressed that issue to their satisfaction.

In relation to other changes, we are moving an amendment that seeks to provide greater independence for the charitable sector. This is a matter of great interest to people at the moment, because they have seen what the Newman government is doing in Queensland, particularly with gag clauses. It is bad enough that they come in and rip the guts out of vital front-line services, but they then want to try to shut people up by imposing gag clauses. We believe that a strong not-for-profit sector is an independent one. People should not be bullied or intimidated into silence and into accepting the harsh realities of what Liberal governments do to front-line services. So we think it is important that there be some independence. That is why we are moving one of the amendments that are before the House at the moment.

In relation to the consultation requirements—

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: What a joke!

Mr BRADBURY: I heard from the member for Menzies that—

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Order! The member for Mackellar was heard in silence. The Assistant Treasurer has the call.

Mr BRADBURY: Before I address that point, I will put something on the record. The member for Menzies made what I thought was an outrageous slur when he said that the amendment we are making is to placate the Catholic Church. It is not about placating anyone; it is about listening to the concerns that have been raised—

Mr Andrews interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Menzies!

Mr BRADBURY: and responding to them. Frankly, I found that to be rather insulting. With regard to consultation, we have set out an even stronger consultation process for the making of governance standards. We think that that is appropriate and that is something that came through in the consultations. We are confident that these amendments respond to genuine concerns raised by stakeholders within the sector. They have asked for these things, but let's not forget they have also asked us to implement these reforms. The opposition should remember that. (Time expired)

Mr Andrews: Madam Deputy Speaker Burke, I formally withdraw what I said.