Foreign donations bill amendments 'sensible'

Charities gathered at the Senate Courtyard in March to flag problems with the initial bill (Twitter/350Australia)

Draft amendments to the foreign donations bill have been labelled a win for the charity sector, with the Government backing down on measures that threatened charitable advocacy. Source: Pro Bono News.

The federal Government last week amended its Electoral Funding and Reform Bill, after a parliamentary joint standing committee made a number of recommendations to improve the bill.

The charity sector raised concerns about the legislation which broadened registration and disclosure requirements for non-party political actors, saying it would stifle advocacy and impose unnecessary red-tape on these organisations.

The amended bill has replaced the term “political expenditure” with “electoral expenditure” – a much narrower definition focused on actual electioneering rather than other forms of public advocacy by charities.

This means non-partisan issue based advocacy will not be captured, vastly simplifying the compliance on charities and other organisations speaking publicly about policy issues.

Krystian Seibert, an industry fellow at the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University, said he was pleased the government replaced the “existing unworkable definition” of political expenditure with electoral expenditure.

“The government’s draft amendments to the bill are sensible and comprehensive, and go a long way towards addressing the concerns which have been raised about the bill and its impact on advocacy by charities,” Seibert told Pro Bono News.

In another win for the sector, registration processes have been simplified through a new single transparency register, while the number of entities required to register has also been reduced through higher thresholds and the removal of registration requirements for third parties.

The amended bill has again been presented to a parliamentary joint standing committee for inquiry, with the committee taking public submissions until Friday.


Foreign donations bill changes labelled a win for charities (Pro Bono News

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