Bipartisan slapdown means over-reaching charity gag bill must go back to the drawing board

SYDNEY, April 10, 2018 - The government must redraft its foreign donations ban legislation to avoid crippling charities and silencing Australian communities, after a cross-party parliamentary committee failed to back the bill.

Yesterday the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters published its long-awaited report on the proposed legislation, in which it criticised a number of elements of the government’s bill and made 15 recommendations that it said must be adopted to have their support.

“The government’s ham-fisted attempts to silence dissent under the guise of protecting democracy have gone too far even for Coalition committee members, and the bill must now be rewritten and opened up to full public consultation,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner Holly Dawson said.

“Even if the government agreed to all the Committee’s recommendations, the new law would still stifle the important work charities do to make Australia a caring and compassionate nation and hold powerful corporations to account.

The legislation will introduce a more onerous compliance regime for an already tightly regulated not-for-profit sector. Any such change would be nothing more than a fig leaf to mask the government’s attempts to silence its critics.

No matter how the government spins this report to spruik its gagging legislation, the bipartisan committee’s disquiet is clear.

“If the Labor Party is sincere in its commitment to defend the charities Australians love, then it must send this law back to be redrafted. Does Bill Shorten support civil society’s right to use international funding to champion the causes everyday Australians care about such as providing food and shelter to the homeless, protecting the environment and undertaking life-saving medical research – or not?” Ms Dawson said.

 

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Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner Martin Zavan

[email protected] / 0424 295 422