Charity sector facing death by a thousand cuts

An amendment before parliament  “represents another slice at a community sector that is facing death by a thousand cuts.” says Marianne Elliott co-founder of independent charity advocacy group, Action Station.

“If each of these changes is small enough, they can each fly below the radar, and happen without public scrutiny, ” she says.

The amendment is contained in an omnibus bill presently before Parliament’s government administration select committee.

It would remove the ability of charities to appeal any decisions of the chief executive of the Department of Internal Affairs.

The Department attempted to include an apparently small change in a bill before the select committee, which is meant to clear up “minor errors” in the law.

However, this change would in fact remove charities’ ability to appeal decisions of the chief executive.

The change doesn’t increase the powers of the chief executive, but it does remove an important check and balance on its power.

“This is another in a series of small changes that are eroding the balance of power between the community sector and the Government, undermining the good work being done by charities on the front lines of our communities,” says Elliot.

The chief executive can decide, for example, to refuse access to the charities register, to amend the register, or that the financial statements of a charity fail to comply with a financial reporting standard.

Elliot says the charitable sector has in the past tried to tell the Government that the direction of charity regulation isn’t working.

She says the regulations were forcing charities to close but the Government refused to listen. “If they value the work charities do to respond to community needs, the Government needs to start listening, and it will only do that if the public sound the alarm”

The amendment is contained in the Statutes Amendment Bill. It removes the word “chief executive.”

Clause 13 amends section 61(1)(a) of the charities act to reflect the appeal right given in section 59.

It ensures that Section 59 relates only to decisions of the Board, and not to decisions of the chief executive.


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News category: New Zealand.

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