By Bill d’Apice and Anna Lewis, Makinson d’Apice, Lawyers, Sydney.
On 19 March 2014, the Coalition Government introduced legislation (the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Repeal) (No. 1) Bill 2014) to repeal the charities regulator, the Australian Charities and not for Profits Commission (ACNC). In an effort to “cut red tape” this proposed abolition has formed part of Australia’s biggest repeal day in history. More than 9500 “unproductive” regulations were scheduled to be abolished and are scheduled for debate in Parliament on 26 March 2014. These included:
- a Bill for an Act to repeal certain Acts and provisions of Acts and to make various amendments of the statute law of the Commonwealth, and for related purposes. (Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Bill 2014);
- an Act to repeal certain Acts, and for related purposes. (Amending Acts 1901 to 1969 Repeal Bill 2014); and
- a Bill for an Act to make various amendments of the statute law of the Commonwealth, to repeal certain obsolete Acts, and for related purposes. (Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 1) 2014).
The Explanatory Memorandum to the ACNC Repeal Bill states “the abolition of the ACNC is part of the broader Government red tape reduction and deregulation agendas.” Furthermore, “the Government believes it should not be imposing unnecessary regulatory control over the civil sector; rather Government should work with and support the sector to self-manage”.
The proposed abolition of the ACNC is intended to occur through a two stage process; the initial Bill to repeal the ACNC has been introduced to Parliament but (if it is passed) will not take effect until a subsequent Bill regarding replacement arrangements is introduced in the winter sitting period. The subsequent Bill will contain the substance of replacement arrangements which are intended to be introduced and passed during the winter sitting of Parliament. The Bill provides for a “successor agency” and it is anticipated that this entity will be known as the ‘Centre for Excellence’ and focus on education and knowledge sharing for the sector.
The Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill indicates that “regulatory functions previously transferred to the ACNC from the ATO and ASIC will return to those bodies.”
Until the legislation abolishing the ACNC is passed, charities will still be required to lodge their Annual Information Statements and comply with all relevant provisions of the ACNC legislation.