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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1133 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

Plato, the famous Greek philosopher, bequeathed valuable land to his disciples so that they could maintain his academy. In a similar way, the Egyptian king Ptolemy I (also of Greek of origin) founded and endowed the famed museum and library in Alexandria.

In many ancient societies, including those of Greece and Rome, the break-up of self-supporting kinship groups caused by urbanisation led to the institution of state-sanctioned measures to aid the infirm, the poor and the disadvantaged.

Similarly, all great religions-including Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam-recognise and encourage the duty of materially well-off persons to aid the less fortunate.

In Asia, Buddha formed a religion based upon personal restraint and charity to the poor. The kings of the region donated money to fund missionaries and, in so doing, became history's earliest and biggest donors.

The Christian era heralded a new age of enlightened philanthropy. Love and concern for humanity underpinned the new religion. From the very early days the Christians organised church funds to feed the needy. Later orphanages, alms houses, shelters and hospitals were paid for by church funds.

Mr Speaker, much closer to home, we have seen the spirit of charity come forth from the devastation of the 18 January bushfires. I am informed that over $7 million has already been collected or pledged to support fellow Canberrans and to rebuild the scorched parts of our beautiful city.

I myself am not a stranger to charities both here in Australia and overseas. Indeed, in a previous life more than 20 years ago I won titles in the Miss Australia quest for raising money for research into cerebral palsy. In the 50 years the Miss Australia quest was active, it raised over $90 million to assist not only children but also adults with this terrible illness.

The bill before us today is really an administrative and accountability measure to ensure that when the spirit of philanthropy is activated integrity is maintained in administering the money that is collected. As stated in the explanatory statement to the bill, some people are hesitant to give money to charities, because of a suspicion either about where the bulk of the money might go or about whether any of the money will go where it is supposed to go to. This bill sets out to stem those suspicions not only by tightening the definition of such terms as "collection", "commercial fundraiser"and "benefit"but also by seeking to make charities more accountable and answerable.

I support this bill, as it decreases the possibility of unscrupulous people masquerading as charities and ensures that moneys raised are received by the charity for which they are intended.

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Heritage and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (12.06), in reply: I thank Mrs Cross for her contribution. It was an interesting expansion of the debate. I found it quite intriguing to listen to the historical background she gave. She also mentioned her own contribution to $90 million for charity. I had not realised her personal contribution was so much.

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