Review of the ACNC legislation

It seems hard to believe the ACNC has been with us for five years. For many charities, including the large number active in health and medical research, the drawn-out process around the creation of the ACNC, the new registration and reporting requirements, and the prospect for several years of it all being unwound seem much more recent.

Nonetheless, the ACNC Act requires the review of the legislation be undertaken after five years and this is now happening. The Terms of Reference, available from the Treasury website are fairly open ended and straightforward, seeking input in a range of areas. Submissions to the Review are due by 28 February.

In an interesting development the newly appointed ACNC Commissioner, Dr Gary Johns, has already made a submission to the Review, which is publicly available.

In a move that has raised concerns in many circles in the not for profit sector, Dr Johns has proposed that he be given additional powers to:
(a) promote the effective use of the resources of not-for-profit entities; and
(b) enhance the accountability of not-for-profit entities to donors, beneficiaries and the public.

In the past Dr Johns has been critical of charities that participate in advocacy, and many in the sector are seeing this proposal as a move by the ACNC Commissioner to take greater control of the activities that charities undertake. This comes at the same time that a Bill before Parliament seeking to improve transparency in relation to political lobbying has the potential to impose additional red tape on charities that engage in a broad range of ‘political expenditure’. (The ACNC Commissioner has criticised these measures in a submission to the Senate Inquiry.)

If your organisation is a charity, you may want to consider making a submission to the review of the ACNC legislation and responding to the Commissioner’s proposals. Research Australia is considering its own position and is keen to hear from its membership. Please contact Greg Mullins, Head of Policy, on 03 9662 9420 or via email at if you would like to contribute to our submission or discuss any aspect of the review.

For information about this and other government reviews, consultations and new legislation of relevance to the health and medical research sector, visit the Current Consultations page on Research Australia’s website.


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