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Fair Trading Amendment Bill - Te Ururoa Flavell

Fair Trading (Soliciting on behalf of Charities) Amendment Bill

Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki

Wednesday 9 December 2009

I am pleased to stand to talk to the Fair Trading (Soliciting on behalf of Charities) Amendment Bill; and I want to congratulate Amy Adams on putting this Bill up.

There’s an old saying, by a great Te Arawa person, charity begins at home.

I absolutely agree with that – it is ultimately about of manaakitanga demonstrated through the expression of aroha, hospitality, generosity and mutual respect as an important part of New Zealand culture.  

It is about whanaungatanga – understanding our inter-dependence with each other and recognising that the people are our wealth.

And it is about kotahitanga - doing our bit to contribute to the collective wellbeing.

Sir, the acts of charity that feature in this Bill addresses are however, outside of the home.    We are talking instead about the small to mid size organisations that tend to employ third party fundraising professionals.

We’re talking about Barnados with a total income of 54 million dollars coming in from the general public and another 54 million from parental contributions.

We’re talking about Plunket with an income for core child health services close to 39 million dollars; or St Johns with revenue from the rendering of services up to 150 million; with an additional 19 million from donations, bequests and grants.

These are just three of over 23 thousand charities registered with the Charities Commission.

These are sizeable amounts of funding that we are talking about, and as such, we believe it is essential that the public has confidence in the transparency and the accountability of the charitable organisations they support.

Other speakers have already mentioned that the Bill is a response to the recent media interest in charities where a significant amount of fundraised income has been spent on fundraisers.

Basically the Bill requires professional third party collectors to disclose to potential donators that a portion of the donation will be retained by the collector. This, as other speakers have said, only applies if the proportion retained is more than 20%.

The hub of the issue for the Maori Party is that although the proposed amendment to the Fair Trading Act may be helpful and would provide some transparency, it does not assist donors to distinguish between different types of fundraising and the associated costs, or require disclosure from charities that employ fundraisers.

But most importantly, we believe the Bill is premature.

We have, of course, had the privilege of being able to consult the very fine Minister of the Community and Voluntary Sector, an excellent Minister from an excellent party,  about this Bill, and we have become aware of the capability and the awareness within the fundraising sector itself, that there are some legitimate issues about the regulation of the sector from within.

We are very fortunate to set that input from a very fine Minister.

We know too, that the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand is currently drafting Industry Standards for its members to supplement its existing Codes of Ethics and Conduct.

These are very positive steps.  

Having standards in place will help to set firm guidelines for fundraisers and the public about what is acceptable practice.  And we would hope that as a result of such a move, we are likely to see improved practice and the restoration of donor confidence.

There is, however, a bit of a risk that although the cost of compliance might be minor, some fundraisers may not be prepared to continue to fundraise for charities  - and that’s a big concern for us.

The groups that I referred to before – and the 23000 others  - do not deserve to be punished by the one bad apple in the bag.  Quite the contrary, we should all be doing what we can to support these vital services who are in many respects the heartline of our communities.

The Maori Party is prepared to let this Bill go through to select committee, to hear what the community and voluntary sector has to say about it.

But we do so with some reluctance.  Because the last thing we would want is to pile even more work on to a sector that is already flooded with more than enough paperwork to deal with.

And we have confidence in both the Minister of the Community and Voluntary Sector, and the sector itself, that financial reporting requirements are seriously under review.

It is, however, consistent with our commitment to letting the public have a say, that we will vote today, to allow the Bill to go through to enable the issue of self-regulation to benefit from further debate.



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