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Donation law changes bad for advocacy

2 Feb 2018

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan has voiced concerns that proposed new electoral funding laws could stifle advocacy by Australian religious organisations.

In its present form the legislation aimed at regulating foreign influence on the Australian political system would impact on charities that receive any kind of support or donation from outside Australia.

As well any public advocacy by an organisation defined as having ‘political purpose’ and would require that organisation to register as a ‘political campaigner’.

Businesses however will be exempted from compliance.

President Stuart McMillan says the bill needs to be redrafted.

“These changes if implemented have the potential to damage the democratic process. Welfare and public interest advocacy should not be seen as political, and nor should funds received for this purpose be seen as ‘political donations’,” said Mr McMillan.

“Churches and other organisations advocating for the common good should not be impeded in exercising our prophetic voice.”

“These changes will make it harder to make heard the voices, issues and concerns of people in the communities we serve.”

UnitingCare Australia and the UCA Synod of Victoria and Tasmania have both made submissions to the Federal Government taking issue with the changes.

A ProBono Australia poll of the not for profit sector found that 79% of respondents were concerned about how the draft bill will affect them.

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