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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2074 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

exemption. Some information may need to be prepared to educate these groups about their entitlement.

However, it appears that sporting associations do not fall within the scope of the definition of community organisation, and some other financially stressed, non-profit organisations may also be excluded from existing duty exemption. Although the explanatory memorandum for the bill indicates that the exemption is meant to benefit small sporting and community groups, the text of the bill does not provide any reference to these target groups. The breadth of the proposed ministerial discretion described in the bill was criticised in the scrutiny of bills report released on 29 May.

The passage of the bill as it stands will not provide any immediate financial relief. No non-profit body that is currently liable for duty on insurance premiums will enjoy a duty exemption until guidelines for exemption are developed. I understand that work has not yet commenced on the preparation of those guidelines. A number of large sporting associations that depend wholly on player fees must renew their insurance policies in the near future. These organisations may not benefit from the duty exemption for their new policies if there is a delay in the developing of the guidelines.

The bill also provides the Assembly with no guidance as to the organisations likely to qualify or not qualify for the duty exemption. I think it is appropriate for the Assembly to make a decision now about the kinds of sporting organisations which genuinely need the exemption.

It would seem wrong to me to extend the exemption to non-profit organisations that receive substantial revenue from commercial activities. Perhaps the government has no intention of doing this, but it is not clear from the text of the bill, and the Assembly has an opportunity to establish workable rules that will exempt only those sporting organisations that genuinely need assistance.

Finally, there is no requirement in the bill for the Assembly to be informed which organisations are exempt under guidelines prepared by the minister. I believe it would be difficult for the government to develop exemption guidelines-other than for sporting organisations-that would have a predictable outcome.

A number of non-profit organisations in Canberra run large commercial enterprises. But if reference is made to constitutional objects or to financial turnover, it is impossible to reliably distinguish these organisations from other organisations that have a more limited capacity to raise revenue. For this reason, I am concerned that the government proposal provides for the establishment of guidelines that would apparently result in an automatic exemption for certain classes of organisation.

I acknowledge that the guidelines proposed would be disallowable, but, in light of the uncertain outcome I predict with respect to exempted organisations, I think we can justify an increase in government accountability.

As I have stated, I support the general objective of this bill. I will be moving amendments-I will speak to them further when we get to the detail stage-to address the shortcomings I have briefly outlined.

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