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Advocacy News

Electoral reforms, charities and philanthropy

The AEGN and many of our members have signed onto an open letter seeking a major overhaul of the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill 2017. Coordinated by Philanthropy Australia, the letter raises the profile of philanthropic funders in the debate over the bill.

Flagged as a bill to prevent foreign interference in our democracy, the Electoral Funding Bill instead bans foreign philanthropy from funding charitable advocacy and creates new classes of entities which would be subject to the electoral laws. Australian trusts and foundations could be impacted by this reform in a number of ways, including:

  • Being classified as a Political Campaigner or Third Party Campaigner, which would then require registration with the Electoral Commission and being subject to tough and onerous compliance provisions.
  • Having your personal details shared with the Electoral Commission by charities which are registered with the Electoral Commission.

This interview between Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies and Hugh de Kretser, CEO of the Human Rights Law Centre, gives a good overview of the concerns about the Bill.

Earlier this month, the AEGN made a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters which was charged with reviewing the Bill. We are continuing to track the progress of the advocacy in Canberra, where sector representatives have been targeting the Opposition and the cross bench. You may be interested to see some of the resources developed by the coordinated charitable campaign:

Hands off our Charities website online petition

Hands off our Charities video

This is a very active and dynamic space and the AEGN will keep you informed about key developments and activities you might like to be involved with.

Power of Advocacy – new publication

Philanthropy Australia has launched a new publication which makes the case for philanthropic support for advocacy. Funded by the Reichstein Foundation and The Myer Foundation the publication promotes advocacy on the basis that:

  • It’s more effective to tackle root causes than symptoms
  • Advocacy supports the public interest, balancing out private interests around public policy
  • It enhances the impact of ‘on the ground’ activities.

There are some terrific case studies of impactful advocacy which has been supported by philanthropy, including some environmental examples. Check here for a video presentation and to download the report.