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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Abbott government blamed for not for profit pessimism: Tim Costello

Abbott government blamed for not for profit pessimism: Tim Costello






Abbott government blamed for not for profit pessimism: Tim Costello

The not-for-profit sector is pessimistic about its performance and its future, with the Abbott government’s approach to funding…











Tim Costello says the not-for-profit sector overwhelmingly
believes the government has got it wrong in its attempts to dismantle
the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission.
AAP/Alan Porritt






The not-for-profit sector is pessimistic about its
performance and its future, with the Abbott government’s approach to
funding and regulation blamed for the negative perceptions, according to
a survey.




The chief executive at World Vision and chair of the Community Council of Australia (CCA), Tim Costello, said the Pro Bono Australia’s State of the Sector Survey of more than 1200 respondents found most participants felt the sector’s performance was declining significantly.



Comparing respondents' perceptions of the sector’s current
performance with performance over the last year and looking forward to
next year, there was a 34-point drop in the Not For Profit Sector
Perceived Performance Index.




“This perceived decline in sector performance was universal. It is
not just the view of leaders and managers but across all roles, across
all states and industries, and across all sizes of not-for-profit
organisations,” Costello told the National Press Club.




“This sector overwhelmingly believes the government has got it wrong
in its attempts to dismantle the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit
Commission and return regulation of the sector to the ATO [Australian
Taxation Office] – only 6% support this policy while over 80% support
retaining the ACNC.”




Labor set up the commission; the Coalition has legislation before
Parliament to abolish it, saying it involves too much red tape.




Costello said respondents in small organisations were particularly
pessimistic. The survey did find some more positive perceptions, with
some parts of the sector doing better than others. Religious-based
charities see their future 50% more positively than do arts and culture
organisations. Not for profits in Queensland feel much more negative
about their current performance than do their counterparts in Victoria.




Costello pointed out the sector contributed about $58 billion to GDP,
turned over more than $105 billion, employed almost 1.1 million
Australians (not counting volunteers) and held more than $175 billion in
assets.




“Perhaps more importantly this is a sector that not only holds our
communities together in good times and bad, it is often the incubator
and nurturer of trust and fairness within our communities.”




Reflecting on the anniversary of the Abbott government, Costello focused on trust and fairness.



He said political leaders needed to recognise some basics that were
required to maintain people’s trust. They needed to “play by the rules”,
avoid special deals for special interests, whether they be party donors
or industries seeking largesse, and they should say what they meant and
mean what they said.




“People expect a degree of dishonesty in political campaigns, but
don’t imagine that means they accept it or forgive it. Breaking promises
comes at a political cost. If you don’t intend to keep a promise, don’t
make it.”




The trust deficit for politicians was much greater than the budget deficit.
When there was not fairness people were not going to step up and make sacrifices, Costello said.




There would always be tension between a competitive economic system,
which generated enterprise and wealth, and the social need to moderate
the harsh effects of unlimited competition. But it was possible to
reconcile them.




This meant not getting caught up in ideological crusades about the
size and role of government; it meant doing what was both fair and
sensible when it came to the tax system and the benefits system. “It
means not letting each Australian fend for themselves and devil take the
hindmost.”




Costello said there was “space for a bit of rethinking our
government’s approach” to some of these issues. “The survey gives us
cause to stop and think. If leaders and workers in NFP organisations are
feeling so pessimistic about the sector’s future, then that is a voice
we should be listening to.




“Government and leaders of all kinds need to take seriously the need
for trust and for fairness. And as citizens, as participants in the
economy, as stakeholders in Australia’s future, everybody needs to start
demanding that our leaders do just that.”

















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