Senator Dean Smith
Shadow Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury
Liberal Senator for Western Australia
11 July 2023
LABOR TALKFEST CONTINUES WHILE AUSTRALIAN CHARITIES WAIT FOR REAL RESULTS
Another round of charities town hall meetings is being held by the Albanese Government while it neglects key decisions affecting the Australian charity and non-profit sector.
Charities Minister Andrew Leigh is in Perth today for the first of the meetings, with more advertised in Brisbane, Devonport and Adelaide later this week.
Labor says the town halls follow on from “successful meetings with charities last year”, but Opposition charities spokesman Senator Dean Smith said there’s no tangible evidence they achieved meaningful results.
“Andrew Leigh is far more interested in concepts than delivery when comes to backing our charities and non-profits,” Senator Smith said.
“Labor acknowledges the sector is under pressure, then proceeds to waste a week by holding meetings instead of taking the urgent, practical action required.
“What more proof does the Albanese Government need that the sector is facing unprecedented demand that’s growing by the day?”
Senator Smith said it was particularly disappointing given Labor still hasn’t announced a new advisory board for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
EOI applications for the board opened in October 2022 and the Charities Minister, who is responsible for making the appointments, was provided a short list in January this year.
“Six months have now passed since this landed on Andrew Leigh’s desk,” Senator Smith said.
“Now we have another round of town halls, more talking, and no action from Labor where it really counts.
“Applicants for board positions, and the sector generally, deserved an answer a long time ago – they need clarity more than ever and they’re not getting it from the Albanese Government.”
Responding to Andrew Leigh’s media release today that noted “we have initiated a Productivity Commission review of philanthropy” and “started work on a Blueprint for strengthening the capacity and capability of Australian charities”, Senator Smith said Labor had only begun work on this after he raised it in Question Time on 8 February.
“Part of these initiatives were an election commitment to the sector, but that didn’t stop Labor dragging its heels for months,” Senator Smith said.
“And we still haven’t actually seen the blueprint that Andrew Leigh talks about.
“Australia’s charities and non-profit sector represents almost a tenth of the economy, it’s a major employer, and it’s literally keeping Australians alive in the Albanese Government’s cost of living crisis.
“Our charities are at the coalface of this crisis and the least Labor could do is provide them with some concrete results.”