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Submission on the Electoral Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017

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NOT-FOR-PROFIT LAW HAS MADE A SUBMISSION TO THE Inquiry into the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017

On 25 January 2018, Not-for-profit Law made a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in relation to the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 (Cth) (the Bill).

We have more detailed information on the Bill and how it works here.

 Our submission focuses on the impact of the Bill on small to medium sized not-for-profits (NFPs) and uses ‘likely scenarios’ to demonstrate the impact of the Bill on two fictional organisations.

Our submission makes the following overall comments about the Bill:

  • The Bill creates uncertainty - particularly in relation to the broad definition of ‘political purpose’.
  • The Bill is likely to cause confusion - particularly in relation to the inconsistency between the Charities Act and the Bill.
  • This Bill imposes significant costs on the sector – particularly in relation to the administrative, governance and financial arrangements that will need to be put in place to monitor compliance with the Bill.

We note that a result of the Bill (if it were enacted in its current form), charities and NFPs might refrain entirely from undertaking activities that could be construed as falling within the meaning of ‘political purpose’ (such as public statements on law reform) for fear of being captured by the Bill, refrain from accepting donations from international sources, and as such be excluded from international philanthropy.

Not-for-profit Law urged the Committee to:

  • Implement the Law Council of Australia’s Not-for-profit Legal Practice and Charities Committee’s (LCA NFP) recommendation that activities within charitable purposes permitted by the Charities Act be excluded from the proposed electoral funding, disclosure and transparency reforms.
  • Implement the recommendation of the LCA NFP that the ‘the definition of “political purpose” be amended to reflect the purpose of the activity (rather than the activity per se) so as to exclude charities carrying out their charitable purposes’.
  • Consider how the above amendment can also be extended to those NFPs that operate predominantly for a public benefit but are not eligible to be registered under the Charities Act (for example, those organisations that Parliament already considers contribute in such a way that they are exempted from income tax).
  • Consider the contribution of international philanthropy to Australian communities, and how restrictions on this will negatively impact the work of Australian charities in Australia and surrounding regions. 

Last Updated: 31 January 2018