After a long-running campaign waged by the Minerals Council and the hard right to strip environmental organisations of their charitable status, the Turnbull government has appointed a known ideological warrior as head of the charities commission.
The Turnbull government has appointed Gary Johns to lead the federal charities regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-For- Profits Commission (ACNC).
The ACNC monitors the compliance of charities and maintains a list of registered organisations. It also ensures charities abide by the laws in the Charities Act. Assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar announced the appointment at Parliament House on Thursday morning.
Over 100 Australian charities wrote an open letter in June to the Prime Minister after Assistant Minister Sukkar failed to re-appoint Susan Pascoe as Commissioner, despite very strong positive recommendations for her reappointment. The Assistant Minister had refused to meet with anyone from the ACNC for over six months even though he is responsible for the agency, and did not even meet with Susan Pascoe prior to not renewing her contract.
Gary Johns’ track record on charities
The former Labor MP has expressed controversial views about charities in the past. He previously argued that advocacy should not count as a charitable purpose and backed an unrealised Abbott government promise to remove it.
Such a reform would be devastating for environmental charities. He was Senior Fellow at the conservative Australian think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (the IPA), and the head of its Non-Government Organisation Unit. He joined the IPA in 1997 and left in 2006. The IPA has had a long term interest is seeing green groups lose government funding (background here).… Read more >>