Charity Regulator Advisory Chair Hits Out at Criticism

By Andrew Heaton

(image via Cue Components)

The chairperson of Australia’s national regulator for charities has hit out at criticism surrounding the appointment of two board members.

In a statement, ACNC Advisory Board Chair Tony Stuart hit out at comments reported last week in The Saturday Paper by former board member David Crosbie that the regulator was being politically hijacked according to a conservative agenda.

“I am disappointed by recent comments in the media in regards to new appointments to the Australian Charities and Not-for profits Commission (ACNC) Advisory Board, of which I am the Chair,” Stuart said in a statement.

“It is disconcerting that a former member of the Advisory Board is using this opportunity to direct criticism towards these new appointments who have served the sector with distinction.”

Stuart’s comments follow harsh criticism reportedly levied by Crosbie as reported in last week’s The Saturday Paper.

In that article, Crosbie – a former board member and chief executive officer for the Community Council of Australia – reportedly suggested that current Turnbull Minister Michael Sukkar, who is responsible for the Commission, was leading a conservative push to repurpose the ACNC.

Crosbie also claims that the government is attempting to close down advocacy by looking to tighten deductibility for advocacy groups, especially those whose activities involve environmental advocacy.

Crosbie’s comments follows the Turnbull government’s decision not to renew the appointment of outgoing Commissioner Susan Pascoe.

Crosbie’s own position was not renewed last year.

But Stuart said the new board appointments of Dr Susan Alberti and Peter Hogan to the advisory board reflected the good standing and wide-ranging experience of both individuals.

Alberti is the founder of the Dr Susan Alberti Medical Research Foundation and has been awarded an AO for her contribution to medical research.

Hogan, meanwhile, sits on the board of Villa Maria Catholic Homes and has expertise in aged care, affordable housing, disability and special education as well as international aid and development.

“I have been fully involved in the process to appoint Dr Susan Alberti and Mr Peter Hogan to the Advisory Board, and endorse their appointments which fill longstanding vacancies on the Board,” Stuart said.

“Both Dr Alberti and Mr Hogan are eminent Australians with wide-ranging experience and knowledge in the not-for-profit, philanthropy and humanitarian sectors.”

The ACNC Advisory Board provides sector-specific advice in areas such as the not-for-profit sector, law, accounting and taxation to the ACNC Commissioner to assist in decision making.

Stuart says the Advisory Board aims to ensure that the ACNC board is comprise of individuals who bring a diverse range of experience to the table.

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