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Crown Entities Reform Bill is Sabotaging Govt’s Own Policies

Media Release
For immediate release
24 May 2012

Crown Entities Reform Bill Is Sabotaging Government’s Own Policies

Community and voluntary sector organisations are calling on the National-led government to delay pushing through law changes that will axe the Charities Commission, and establish regulation of charities by the Department of Internal Affairs.

Members of ComVoices, a network of community and voluntary sector organisations, said it was not too late for the parties that made up the Government to review their support for the clause that will create havoc with the Government’s results-based focus.

Ric Odom, Chair of ComVoices, said an amendment was being proposed to defer the changes. The changes would be self-defeating and would simply serve to sabotage the Government’s own results-based approach.

“Government has not been listening to experts or the Sector about the damage that would be done as a result of these changes,” said Mr Odom. “The majority of charitable organisations have been established by ordinary New Zealanders to address a problem that they see in their community and want to fix. This is the very kind of social innovation and self-reliance that the Government is seeking to promote with its welfare reforms and results-based approach.

“We urge all the parties in the National-led Government to support deferral. It is time for all the parties, including National, UnitedFuture and Act, to demonstrate their connection to the communities they serve and call for a delay on this Bill.”

Simon Cayley, Chief Executive of The Bishops Action Foundation, said the changes being proposed were premised on a mistaken belief that Government funding to charitable organisations for service provision gives it ownership of the whole sector.

“Most charitable organisations do not rely on Government funding for the majority of their funding. Those charities that have contracts to provide community services on behalf of government are only a minority. The existing Charities Commission has largely recognised this.

“For those charities that do have contracts with government, research has shown that for every $1 they receive from government they deliver up to $5 worth of benefits, supported by members, fundraising and volunteer time. Government should be hands-off.”

Robyn Scott, Chief Executive of Philanthropy New Zealand, said moving the functions of the Charities Commission to the Department of Internal Affairs will hamper community innovation and boost bureaucracy.

“In March, the Prime Minister stated the Government’s priority around better public services. This change is out of step with that strategy. Supposedly Government is trying to reduce the size of the bureaucracy but this change will axe a small autonomous crown entity that is doing its job effectively and efficiently and fold it into a massive bureaucratic machine.

“To date the Charities Commission has been providing the right level of oversight. It was set up in 2005 after several years of discussion between community organisations and government. It was designed to do what everyone agreed was needed; establish a register, provide training and weed out any fraud. The Commission has done that effectively and the issues from last year around deregistration have largely been addressed.”

The Community and Voluntary Sector contributes more than 4.9 per cent of GDP (including volunteer hours), similar to the contribution of the construction industry. Volunteer labour in 2010 was estimated to be 270 million hours, which translates into $3.5 billion. Volunteering is not restricted to the Community Sector. A lot of core central and local government work is also actively supported by volunteers, for example: the Coastguard, Police, Prisons, and Search and Rescue. The Sector is a significant contributor to the social and economic health of New Zealand.

ENDS

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