Page 4003 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 17 November 2015

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I will keep my remarks short today but, in closing, while I understand that some members in the community have some concerns about this bill, I believe that the bill is constructed in a way that will achieve the objectives intended and will not have unintended consequences. Nonetheless, there are a number of safeguards and opportunities for genuine charities to make sure that they are covered by this legislation. The community sector will no doubt be forthright in bringing forward any concerns they have on an ongoing basis, but I think there is scope for those discussions and understandings to continue to improve and that this legislation delivers on the objectives it was intended to.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (12.10): I recall that a few years ago the ACT was, I think, the first state or territory to agree to support the work of the ACNC, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. I recall that quite well because I worked in the not-for-profit sector at the time, and it was seen as a way of reducing red tape, supporting the work of not-for-profit organisations. To me, this bill seems a bit of a back to the future approach, where we are introducing another definition of charity and additional red tape for not-for-profits and charities. I am a bit perplexed by that.

I would like to ask whether the Chief Minister, in his response, would talk about the consultation he may have had, for example, with community housing providers. Recently I had some discussions with some in the community housing sector, and they have expressed surprise, alarm and a bit of concern about these proposed changes. They were surprised they had not been consulted about them.

I would just like to read a couple of comments that I have received this morning. One is:

Removing exemptions for stamp duty, land tax, and rates would be a massive own goal for the ACT Government because they allow community housing providers to provide more and better services to more people, which takes heat off ACT Housing (which runs at a massive loss), and encourages social and economic participation on two counts. Firstly, safe and affordable housing means better participation education, better health, and a reduction in use of other services (particularly the mental health system, but also the cops and justice system etc). Secondly, the less people spend on their housing … the more they’ll be able to spend participating in the local economy, e.g. buying fresh fruit and veg, sending their kids on school camps etc.

Another comment is:

It’s out of step with what other governments are doing (SA, for instance, has legislated that local councils must provide rates exemptions).

And finally:

If this is really the case, it’s outrageous that affected organisations are finding out as legislation hits the assembly.

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