On Wednesday 13 March 2013, Senator Penny Wong tabled the Not for Profit Sector Freedom to Advocate Bill in the Senate. The Bill invalidates gag clauses contained in past, present and future Commonwealth government contracts with Not-For-Profit organisations.
The legislation is intended to promote and respect the independence of the Not-For-Profit sector. In doing so, it will ensure that Not-For-Profit organisations cannot be gagged from speaking out against the government for fear of breach of contract. Senator Wong has stated that this legislation was drafted in response to the Newman Government inserting gag clauses into government contracts in Queensland. The Commonwealth Government has now made a point of calling on each of the State and Territory Governments to legislate in a similar fashion.
While we welcome this move as positive recognition of the independence and importance of the Not For Profit sector, we note that there is no specific protection from the Government electing to terminate contracts with Not-For-Profit organisations that advocate against the interests of the Government.
For more information on this Bill you may also be interested in reading the associated Explanatory Memorandum.
We will continue to keep you informed of the progress of this Bill and other charity law developments through our blogs and bulletins.
If you have concerns or require any further information please contact Bill d’Apice or Anna Lewis.