Charities regulator reprieve a call to get back to work

The cautionary examples of charities regulators in the UK and NZ show the ACNC’s stay of execution is no licence to relax. Fulfilling its purpose by cutting red tape, being a helpful source of advice and using the big stick only when it has to should see it survive the storm, writes Centre for Independent Studies policy analyst Helen Andrews.

Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has now confirmed what most in the not-for-profit sector have long suspected: the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission is here to stay.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison had already given indications that he was unlikely to follow through on his predecessor Kevin Andrews’ commitment to the abolition of the ACNC, and now the assistant treasurer has expressly reassured the commission and the sector that “it is not a priority for us to proceed with it at this time.”

To start with the upside: this backdown will bring some much-needed stability to the NFP sector, which has been justifiably uncertain about what sort of regulatory regime it will face in six, twelve, or eighteen months’ time.

However, the concerns that led Kevin Andrews to press for the ACNC’s abolition in the first place — that the commission is a solution in search of a problem, for example, or that other Commonwealth countries have discovered problems with this model of charities regulation — remain valid.

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