“Australian charities deserve better”: Labor MPs criticise ACNC boss
“This week is Charity Fraud Awareness Week, and there’s been no bigger fraud perpetrated on the charities of Australia than the appointment of a charities critic to head the charities commission”
Australian charities deserve better than the “out-of-touch” national charity regulator boss, Labor MPs said during a heated estimates hearing.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) head, Dr Gary Johns, was grilled by MPs for remarks he made on Indigenous charities, BeyondBlue and his refusal to go back on comments that Indigenous mothers are “cash cows”.
Johns “publicly confirmed” he still held these views and would not dispel a perception of bias because “I don’t need to as commissioner”. This comes as it is revealed Johns will not allow ACNC staff to refer to the regulator in Acknowledgement of Country.
The Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-profits, Andrew Leigh, criticised Johns’ position, adding that the Coalition’s appointment of a “charity critic” was not fair on the sector and “Australian charities deserve better”.
The charity commissioner Gary Johns’ troubling comments reflect the out-of-touch government which appointed him. Australian charities deserve better https://t.co/Q9OzFXV1PY #auspol #charities pic.twitter.com/prsJk3mAyS
— Andrew Leigh (@ALeighMP) October 24, 2018
“Mr John’s attitudes to Indigenous Australians, the LGBT+ community and our charity sector across the board mark out a man who is drastically out of touch with the Australian community,” Leigh said following the hearing.
During the hearing, Labor Senator Jenny McAllister criticised Johns on his dismissal of charities and his public – and often controversial – views, including that people on government allowances should be required to take contraception.
She questioned why he would speak to the Acknowledgement of Country signature issue but would not go back on comments that “go very directly to the charitable purposes of the organisations that you regulate”.
“They’re not in my signature block,” Johns said. “They carry the Commonwealth seal, if you like, the ACNC which is a Commonwealth body under law. That’s my concern.”
@ACNC_gov_au Charity Commissioner, Gary Johns (former @TheIPA grunt) has previously argued that people on government allowances should be required to take contraception. He’s described Indigenous mothers as cash cows, attacked Indigenous charities and criticised Beyondblue. https://t.co/tN01DZty8F
— MSM Watchdog (@MSMWatchdog2013) October 25, 2018
After being asked whether he wanted to “disavow” his view, Johns added: “Absolutely not. I don’t know – I’m quite public. I’ve written for 30 years about a whole range of matters. Why would I seek to disavow any of that?”
Leigh said that Johns’ appointment contributed to the “ongoing war on charities” and questioned the Coalition government’s decision to appoint Johns to the ACNC board “and how he can possibly remain there given his comments”.
“This week is Charity Fraud Awareness Week, and there’s been no bigger fraud perpetrated on the charities of Australia than the appointment of a charities critic to head the charities commission.”