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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1128 ..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

The licence must be produced irrespective of whether a collection is carried out by a person, by mail, by telephone or by fax. I am a little puzzled about the reference to telephone. I should imagine that if someone phones you and you ask them for a licence number they can rattle off anything they like. Nevertheless, it is a sensible provision. I accept that there might be some limitations in that area.

I have had the view for some time that the audited balance sheets of charities should be published in the media. However, I accept that this would impose a further cost upon charitable groups. I believe that this bill goes a long way towards satisfying my concerns. Therefore, I do not intend to pursue the question of publication. The information will be available if donors wish to seek it out.

There has been wide consultation on the bill. The minister was kind enough to provide me with a list of some 30 charities that hold licences under the old Collections Act 1959. These people were all contacted about the new legislation.

I was also provided-again my thanks-with comments that were made by these organisations. Many said that if they had any comments they would get back to the government. I presume that they have not done so, so presumably they do not have any great problem with the bill. I have spoken to some of these organisations myself-not all 30, obviously. I do not have the resources the government has.

St Vincent de Paul came back to me this morning with a few concerns they had, such as concerns about whether the bill should address only appeals for money as opposed to other things and whether the requirement to distribute the proceeds of an annual appeal within 90 days is practical. The previous requirement was for a statutory declaration within 30 days. I think St Vincent de Paul are looking at the logistical problems of distributing the proceeds within 90 days rather than doubt being raised about the proceeds.

They have another small problem. They say:

The Bill reads as if sponsors and others donors of goods and services will have to apply for a licence before they can conduct an appeal on our behalf. For example if a shopping centre wants to conduct a gift giving tree at Christmas and provide a charity with the gifts donated by the shoppers they will have to apply for a licence under this bill.

They conclude by saying:

We understand that there will be wide community consultation before the regulations, which accompany this Bill, are finalised.

Another charity made the same statement to me. They are happy to wait until the regulations come in to iron out some of these matters. I would not imagine that that would be a great problem. I understand that the regulations will be finalised within the next six months. I too would like to be consulted on the regulations when they are being finalised so that some of the matters that have been raised by a small number of charities can be properly addressed and hopefully ironed out. With that minor qualification, the opposition is happy to support the legislation.

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