Resignation of ACNC commissioner welcomed by assistant minister

By Anna Macdonald

June 7, 2022

Andrew Leigh
Assistant minister for competition, charities and treasury Andrew Leigh said the ABS and Gruen have engaged an independent panel to review and report on its data quality. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

The commissioner of Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) Gary Johns has tendered his resignation after taking up the role in 2017, effective from the end of July.

Johns said in a statement he was proud of the achievements the organisation had accomplished during his tenure, naming the contribution of transparency and accountability of the not-for-profit sector.

“During my term as commissioner, the nation’s 60,000 registered charities have had many challenges and have risen to overcome them —bushfires, floods and a global pandemic, lockdowns that significantly disrupted their standard operations and increased demand for their programs,” the outgoing commissioner said.

He named the redesign of the data and search features of the Charity Register as a ‘major achievement’, as well as the yet-to-be-launched free online courses for people running charities. 

Assistant minister for competition, charities and treasury Andrew Leigh welcomed the news, saying the government will run an ‘open and transparent process’ to find a replacement.

Speaking at the Australian Progress conference in Canberra, Leigh said putting Johns in charge of the charities commission was ‘like putting Scott Morrison in charge of ensuring safety at kids’ soccer games’, referencing Morrison’s accidental tackle of a child during a soccer match. 

“The Liberals came to office in 2013 promising to scrap the charities commission, a body that had been recommended by a dozen independent inquiries as a one-stop shop for charities. 

“We managed to block them getting through that repeal, so then they appointed as the head of the charities commission Gary Johns, somebody who had made his name as a charities critic and slipped the announcement out in the hours following the successful same-sex marriage vote,” Leigh said. 

In a statement, Leigh said the government was looking for a suitable replacement, stating the government will look to fix fundraising and build a stronger charitable sector. 

“The election ended the Liberals’ nine‑year war on charities,” Leigh added.

The minister told the Guardian he had not been in contact with Johns since taking on the portfolio, and the decision to resign was the commissioner’s own decision. 


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