"I am very pleased Mr Fitzgerald AM has agreed to chair the advisory board. His background as a Productivity Commissioner and his extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector make him the ideal candidate to guide the reforms," Mr Shorten said.
Mr Shorten also released a discussion paper – Better targeting of not-for-profit tax concessions – seeking public views on how to implement the Government's 2011-12 Budget announcement to better target not-for-profit (NFP) tax concessions for unrelated commercial entities.
"By better targeting tax concessions in the not-for-profit sector, the Government is encouraging charities to direct profits generated by unrelated commercial activities back to their charity's altruistic purposes," he said.
These announcements flesh out some of the details of the Gillard Government's election promise to reform Australia's NFP sector to deliver smarter regulation, reduce red tape and improve the transparency and accountability of the sector.
They also provide details on specific measures contained within the 2011-12 Budget, to make it easier for the not-for-profit sector to deliver vital assistance to Australia's most vulnerable people, including the establishment of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
As announced in the 2011-12 Budget, an Implementation Taskforce for the ACNC will start work on 1 July 2011 to ensure the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission is ready for operation by 1 July 2012.
From 1 July 2012, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission will initially be responsible for determining charitable, public benevolent institution, and other NFP status for all Commonwealth purposes; providing education and support to the sector; implementing a 'report-once use-often' general reporting framework for charities; and establishing a public information portal by 1 July 2013.
The Implementation Taskforce will also engage with state agencies to negotiate use of the portal as a 'one stop shop' for reporting to state agencies.
"The truth is that this sector has a real and growing importance in the Australian economy and in Australian society more broadly," Mr Shorten said.
"The reforms to NFP tax concessions will not affect the use of tax concessions that support a charity's related commercial activities."
The reforms will also not affect not-for-profit entities carrying on small-scale or low-risk activities such as lamington drive fundraisers, school fetes and leasing out of church halls, or the principle of mutuality and, therefore, the tax treatment of clubs.
John Emerson, a private sector expert in the tax laws applicable to charities and member of the Board of Taxation, has agreed to provide the Government with advice on these reforms.
Consultation about the reforms to tax concessions is open for six weeks, closing Friday, 8 July 2011, and further information can be found at www.treasury.gov.au.
"The ACNC and the changes to how charities can use tax concessions for unrelated commercial activities are major reforms of this vital sector in our community. I am very pleased the Gillard Government has been able to deliver these reforms and I look forward to ongoing consultations with the sector to implement these reforms successfully," Mr Shorten said.
27 May 2011
Robert Fitzgerald AM - Biography
Robert Fitzgerald AM was appointed as a full-time Productivity Commissioner in January 2004 and has been recently reappointed until 2014.
Robert has a diverse background and extensive experience in commerce, law, public policy and community services. Prior to being appointed to the Commission, Robert was the Community and Disability Services Commissioner and Deputy Ombudsman in NSW.
Robert practiced as a commercial lawyer in NSW for over 20 years, including with the firm Clayton Utz, and established his own law practice specialising in franchising, licensing and trade practices.
During that same time he was engaged as a senior management consultant, including with Horwath Accountants and Management Consultants (now Deloitte), as well as holding senior executive positions with a number of private trading companies.
His involvement in public policy has been extensive and includes serving as a member of the National Competition Council for five years (1999-2003). Robert was Chair of the Commonwealth Taskforce on Franchising Regulation, Chair of the Franchising Code Administration Council, member of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Social Security and member of the Commonwealth Inquiry into the Definition of Charities and Related Organisations.
For over 30 years he has also been involved in a voluntary capacity in numerous community services. He is currently a Director of The Benevolent Society and Foyer Foundation.
Robert's previous community sector involvement included:
- President - Australian Council of Social Service
- Chair - National Roundtable of Nonprofit Organisations
- State President - St Vincent de Paul Society (NSW)
- Chair - JOBfutures Ltd (a national network of community job market providers)
- National Committee Member - Caritas Australia
- Board Director - Families Australia and the Association of Children's Welfare Agencies
In addition, Robert serves on a number of university advisory boards, including the Queensland University of Technology's Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies Advisory Board, and the Australian Catholic University Community Engagement Advisory Committee and previously the University of Sydney Law School Advisory Board.
Robert holds degrees in commerce and law from the University of NSW. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1994, is a recipient of the Centenary medal, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Australian Catholic University in 2001, and is now an Adjunct Professor at that University.