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Monday, 24 November 2008
Page: 19

Senator STEPHENS (Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector and Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Prime Minister for Social Inclusion) (5:25 PM) —Can I just respond to the issues that were raised by Senator Payne and Senator Ludlam. In speaking to the amendments, they apply to charities endorsed by the Commissioner of Taxation during the establishment phase of the scheme for 2008-09 and 2009-10, and the safety net will cover those not-for-profit providers for the 10 years they receive incentives under the scheme.

There are already half-a-dozen not-for-profit housing providers across Australia who hold title and who manage significant stock numbers of affordable housing. Several of those, including the Brisbane Housing Company and Community Housing (Victoria) Ltd, have substantial development capacity. We need to remember that the scheme will significantly boost the capacity of not-for-profit providers to work with investors to build NRAS dwellings, remembering that the scheme builds over time. In the first year we are releasing 3½ thousand tax credits and, in 2009-10, 7,500 tax credits, which will allow not-for-profit organisations more time to build increased capacity.

On the issue of long-term sustainability of those organisations, it is important to keep in mind the other work that the government is doing in relation to the not-for-profit sector. A great deal of work is being done to build capacity, including the work of the economics committee, which will be reporting next week on the issue of regulatory reform and transparency of charities in the not-for-profit sector. Some work is to be done next year by the Productivity Commission around those issues and also around issues that will be part and parcel of the Henry taxation review next year. The government is very mindful of the way in which the not-for-profit sector intersects with the taxation system and how unintended consequences of legislation can actually disadvantage them. Can I, again, express my appreciation for the good work of the committee because, when you get good committee work, you can actually identify and resolve those issues before the actual bill hits the House or the Senate for debate. Thank you very much for your contributions.

Question agreed to.

Bills reported with amendments; report adopted.