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Commissioner Defends Regulator’s Power Grab over Charities’ Spending

The charities commissioner, Gary Johns, has defended his call for the regulator to have oversight of charities’ “effective use of resources”, claiming he is only seeking to educate the public about efficiencies in the sector.

Charities were up in arms at the proposal, labelling it a “bizarre overreach” and citing Johns’s track record of opposing charities’ spending on advocacy.

Johns has sought to allay the sector’s concerns, writing in his fortnightly column that he is not seeking new enforcement powers for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) despite the fact the ACNC submission had stated that it may need additional powers to meet the new purpose.

In its submission to a review of charities law, the ACNC called for two new objects: to promote “the effective use of the resources of not-for-profit entities” and to “enhance the accountability of not-for-profit entities to donors, beneficiaries and the public”.

On Thursday, Johns said the proposed changes are “designed to encourage the responsible and accountable use of charitable resources” and are similar to the regulator’s powers in the United Kingdom.

“There has been a great deal of scrutiny recently about the effectiveness of charities and whether charities use their funds and resources to achieve the best results,” he said.

“These recommended objects are not designed to create restrictions or impose limitations on charities. They are not additional enforcement powers, but rather a mandate for the ACNC to support and promote effective and efficient use of resources.”

To view the full Guardian article, click here.

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