Road blocks to aid groups averted in foreign influence law reforms
World Vision Australia has joined humanitarian organisations and other charities in welcoming changes to the Electoral Funding and Disclosure laws which today passed through the House of Representatives.
Chief executive Claire Rogers praised parliamentarians for their extensive consultation with the aid sector, which would have worn serious damage if the bill had passed into law in its original form.
She said charities should be able to speak out in a non-partisan way on behalf of vulnerable people without fear of breaking laws.
“Maintaining this ability to give a voice to people both in Australia and overseas who find themselves in positions of great need and vulnerability – through such things as war, natural disasters, displacement and famine - is so important to our work,” Ms Rogers said.
“In the bill's original drafting, our capacity to do this would have been severely undermined.”
“Charities like WVA are non-partisan and undertake legitimate and vital advocacy in relation to policy change,” she said. “It was pleasing to see that the sector was considered and reflected in the reforms which passed through parliament today,” she said.
“We understood the Government’s stated objective of improving transparency of foreign-controlled political activities, but the way the original bill was drafted would have presented enormous challenges in continuing our important work.
“To silence our advocacy voice is to take away our capacity to stand up for the most vulnerable in the world.”
While WVA did not believe the reforms were targeted at charities, the bill in its original form would have provided a disincentive for philanthropy and added a significant cost and compliance burden for charities.
For more information, contact:
Ruth Lamperd, World Vision Australia News Editor, 0417 765 947, firstname.lastname@example.org
PICTURE: World Vision Australia CEO Claire Rogers in Covalima, Timor Leste, where the humanitarian organisation runs programs to address the serious problem of stunted growth among children.
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