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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1132 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

only once a month or once every six weeks, the consultation process seems to be a bit rushed. I hope it does not set a precedent that community consultation is one month and nothing more.

Our community organisations are a very vibrant part of our community and are very busy and sometimes overworked. They might not be able in one month to sit down and study a quite large piece of legislation and fully understand its ramifications for them. I know that we need to keep moving forward with making sure our legislation is up to date and workable, but we need to recognise that the community does not have the same resources and time as we do to consider law.

The minister also said that he would allow 10 sitting days for members to familiarise themselves with this legislation and to get their own community input. But we are debating it now, just three sitting days later. I need to put the question: why the rush? We recognise that the law needs to be changed, but a number of questions have been raised about how this legislation will work. The regulations, we hear, are still six months away, and a lot of the detail will be caught up in those. We seem to be rushing through this legislation without any clear reason.

The Democrats will not be opposing this bill. We hope the development of the regulations will be a slightly more open process and that the government will be willing to take more time with the community groups than they did in the development of this legislation. We will be closely watching implementation of the legislation to ensure that community groups understand how it will operate, that they are not unfairly disadvantaged by its operation and that they understand that they now have some protection when people are donating to charities, because the person they give money to will be clearly identified as a member of the organisation they wish to support.

MRS CROSS (12.01): Mr Speaker, I acknowledge the Australian Charities website, which has been an enormous resource for my office in preparing for the debate on this bill.

For thousands of years, humanity has understood and valued the need for charity. Many great and famous figures of history have extolled the need for philanthropy. Historical records show that the ancient Babylonian king Hammurabi, writing about 2000 BC, entreated his subjects to "see that justice be done to the widows, orphans and the poor". In the ancient records there are many earlier references to charitable and philanthropic laws, but the code of Hammurabi is the most precise.

Moses appears to be the originator, nearly 3,500 years ago, of the tithe. At that time this meant giving one-tenth of the harvest yield. The tithe was given to the Lord, to be used to support the religious system and for the relief of the poor. In addition, every seventh year the fields would lay fallow and the poor would be allowed to pick any new growth. Philanthropy became an important part of Jewish life, even from the earliest days.

Confucius put philanthropy on a more spiritual and philosophical level when he stated:

He who wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own.

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