The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission has been rocked by a disastrous Senate estimates appearance that has laid bare a major leadership rift over the direction of the charity watchdog.
The ACNC appeared before estimates last week without commissioner Dr Gary Johns, who was in Wellington attending the Charity Law Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference.
Taking Johns’ place at estimates was acting assistant commissioner Catherine Willis, who had been at the ACNC for just two weeks and struggled to answer many questions during the hearing.
It emerged during questioning that assistant commissioner Murray Baird was on leave from the ACNC, and had been offered a temporary position at the Australian Taxation Office, after a major clash with Johns over leadership and the direction of the organisation.
Jacqui Curtis, the ATO’s acting commissioner of taxation, told the hearing Baird approached ATO officers with a number of workplace issues.
“We spoke to Mr Baird. We also spoke to Dr Johns… When we talked to them, it was quite clear that really there was a disagreement about leadership styles and probably philosophy, I guess, about how the organisation was operating,” Curtis said.
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