New Initiative Launched to Protect Charities Advocacy as New Poll Finds Majority of Australians Agree Advocacy a Key Part of Charity Work

A new initiative to protect charities advocacy has been launched today as new polling finds the majority of Australians agree advocacy is a key part of charity work.

The initiative calls for the Parliament to repeal these laws, which have been imposed on the charity sector – a sector which makes an estimated $129 billion contribution to the economy each year – with no notice. New analysis from the Australia Institute Democracy & Accountability Program shows the retrospective nature of the legislation, along with other features, threatens the legitimacy and ability of charities to fundraise for advocacy.

Key Details

  • The Coalition Government and Labor Opposition have passed flawed laws that impose unnecessary and onerous obligations on the charities sector, a key part of the Australian economy.
    • The changes are retrospective, use a vague and overly broad definition of “electoral expenditure”, and were rushed into law without consultation or scrutiny.
    • The organisations that are currently captured by the laws spend less than 1% of their receipts on electoral expenditure – and yet many more organisations are going to be hit by the same extensive reporting requirements and limits as imposed on international philanthropy.
  • Three in five (60%) Australians agree that advocating for policy change is an important part of the work that charities do, with 15% disagreeing.
    • The majority of Australians across most voting intentions agree that advocating for policy change is an important part of the work that charities do, including 62% of Coalition, 65% of Labor, 64% of Greens, and 51% of One Nation voters.
    • Three in five (60%) Australians agree that advocating for policy change is an important part of the work that charities do, with 15% disagreeing.
    • The majority of Australians across most voting intentions agree that advocating for policy change is an important part of the work that charities do, including 62% of Coalition, 65% of Labor, 64% of Greens, and 51% of One Nation voters.

“Advocacy is an important part of the work charities do, and our research shows the majority of Australians agree,” said Ben Oquist, executive director at the Australia Institute.

“This legislation represents a huge attack on charities, a sector that makes a $129 billion per year contribution to the economy, including the direct employment of over 800,000 people.

“It was a bad process and a bad outcome. There has been no notice, little public explanation, no sector consultation. We have just witnessed the biggest attack on the Australian charity sector the public has never heard of.

“This legislation has faced no Senate inquiry. Such an inquiry would have uncovered unintended consequences of this ill-thought-out legislation and allowed charities the opportunity to explain the practical realities of this legislation to the Parliament.

“The irony of legislation that is supposedly aimed at increasing transparency, having no transparency itself seems to have been completely lost on the Government and Opposition.

“This change represents an attack on charities, our democracy and the right to advocate for positive change.”

Related research

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