ACNC Creates a ‘Red Tape Nightmare’ - Catholic Education

A major arm of the Catholic Church has thrown its support behind the abolition of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) after the regulator was named as one of the first casualties of the Federal Coalition Government’s Repeal Day.

According to Catholic Education Executive Director Stephen Elder, excessive regulation and duplication through the ACNC has created a red tape nightmare for Catholic schools when they should be focusing on teaching kids.

“Catholic schools are already required to meet existing reporting requirements through the federal Department of Education, the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, the state Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the Australian Taxation Office, the Victorian Institute of Teaching and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority My School website,” Elder said.

“We are highly accountable so we don’t see the value in keeping the ACNC as a regulatory body if is only adding to the regulatory burden for charities and increased red tape and duplication.

“The charities commissions in New Zealand and the United Kingdom have already been exposed for not adding benefit to the charitable sector, with the New Zealand commission being wound up.

“Funding certainty should be the main priority for the Not for Profit sector, not regulation.”

Elder said he agreed with Catholic Health Australia’s CEO Martin Laverty and a growing number of charitable organisations that the sector had been negatively impacted by some aspects of the ACNC.

“State and Federal Governments need to harmonise reporting requirements for all charitable bodies, doing away with the need for duplication,” he said.

“Delegating regulation duties to the Australian Taxation Office would make sense because it’s an independent body.”

However another faith-based Not for Profit, St Vincent de Paul Society National Council has called on the Federal Government to abandon its ideological opposition to the ACNC.

“Rather than abolishing the ACNC, the Government would be well-advised to listen to the voices of the charitable and Not for Profit sector,” Chief Executive Dr John Falzon said.

“The ACNC has built excellent relationships with the community sector in an effort to move towards a more supportive and less burdensome regulatory system. We are astonished to see the Government showing such strident opposition to the very sensible role of the ACNC.”

National President Anthony Thornton said the council was also deeply concerned by the Government’s refusal to commit to funding certainty in the areas of homelessness, affordable housing, emergency relief and financial counselling.

“Charities play a vital role in a robust civil society, but we should never be seen as an excuse for government to pull back from its responsibilities or to cut social expenditure,” Thornton said.

Community Council for Australia Chief Executive Officer David Crosbie said that a very broad range of people, other than some groups in the Catholic community, had shown support for the ACNC.

“For a long time people have been talking about the Not for Profit sector needing to have a voice and I think that yesterday it had a voice,” Crosbie said.

“That can only be a benefit to the sector and that level of attention to our issues can only benefit the sector.”

Crosbie said he expected that the bill (number eight on the repeal list) would be referred by the Senate for inquiry, which would give the sector the chance to offer its views on the need for red tape compliance to be reduced.

“I don’t expect the bills to go through Parliament,” Crosbie said.

“This is the kind of repeal you have when you don’t know what to do. The focus of this bill is solely to get rid of the ACNC. There’s no real plan, no real narrative or vision for what will happen when the ACNC is disbanded.”

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