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Submission To Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding And Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017

1. INTRODUCTION 

The Salvation Army in Australia welcomes the opportunity to express its concerns regarding the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017. 

The Salvation Army is an international movement and part of the universal Christian Church. The Salvation Army is a mission driven organisation that, through its strong advocacy role, seeks to reduce social disadvantage and create a fair and harmonious society through holistic and people centered approaches. This reflects our commitment to and primacy of:

  • Caring for people
  • Creating faith pathways
  • Building healthy communities
  • Working for justice. 

Informed by these fundamental mission intentions, The Salvation Army delivers its networks and programs of human services in partnership with communities and government and with the support of government funding. The Salvation Army also contributes significant internally generated funds and resources, including the commitment and support of its many volunteers and supporters. In the current financial year The Salvation Army in Australia will contribute more than $60 million of its internally generated revenue to offset costs in the delivery of services to disadvantaged and hard to reach people in the community who would otherwise ‘fall through the cracks’. In addition, The Salvation Army makes significant ‘in kind’ contributions to social programs, including the use of buildings and equipment, IT and administrative staff. 

The Salvation Army is driven by altruistic motives such as addressing and reducing community need and social disadvantage. The Salvation Army achieves mission objectives through the social capital generated by empowering communities though advocacy, volunteering, developing partnerships in the community and a commitment to early intervention and prevention. Mission based charities and not-for-profit organisations, such as The Salvation Army, bring a multitude of additional outputs and benefits in addition to contracted service delivery. 

It is in this overarching context that The Salvation Army expresses its concerns about the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 as it is currently promoted by the Commonwealth Government. The Salvation Army argues that the Bill goes much further than limiting the donations made by foreign entities to charities and not-for-profits that potentially influence Australian electoral outcomes. The Salvation Army believes the Bill places unprecedented and unnecessary new restrictions and reporting obligations on charities and not-for-profit organisations engaged in advocacy of social justice issues. 

2. THE BILL 

The Bill requires an organisation to register as a ‘political campaigner’ if, during the current year or in the previous three years, its ‘political expenditure’ exceeds $100,000.