Michael Sukkar says no there has been no progress on fundraising reform, charities say it's cost $26 million

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The charities sector will have to wait longer for national fundraising reforms that were recommended in 2019, agreed to by all jurisdictions 12 months ago and are estimated to lose the sector $13.3 million every year in administration costs.

After being challenged by Labor's Andrew Leigh on the anniversary of state and territory treasurers agreeing to reform fundraising regulations that were inconsistent, overlapping and outdated, the government has admitted that they struggled to get reform efforts off the ground.

The government did not answer questions from the Canberra Times this week about progress on the reform. But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar released a statement on Wednesday reiterating the in-principle agreement and that no progress had been made.

"I have tasked my department with leading state and territory officials to find a practical way forward over the coming months. This is a high priority and I want to move quickly to reach agreement on an approach at a national level," Mr Sukkar said.

Council on Federal Financial Relations reached agreement last December, which was endorsed by the national cabinet.

The working group setup to progress the reforms was chaired by the Commonwealth Treasury and Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety.

"The insights and experience of the charities sector will be invaluable to the working group to eliminate unnecessary red tape and allow charities to capitalise on the accelerated digitalisation of the economy driven by the pandemic," he said.

Labor MP Andrew Leigh. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Labor MP Andrew Leigh. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Dr Leigh, Labor's charities policy spokesperson, noted that the government had known of a bipartisan senate committee recommendation to unify the regulations since 2019, which also identified the $13.3 million a year it was the administrative burden was costing the sector.

"Since the catastrophic fires of summer 2019-20, the Coalition's inertia has cost charities over $26 million in unnecessary compliance burdens," Dr Leigh said.

"I think when it comes to beating up on charities, the Coalition is as quick out of the blocks as Usain Bolt. When it comes to actually solving problems for charities, they are slow as a sloth," he said.

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This story Sukkar admits national fundraising reform lost momentum first appeared on The Canberra Times.