A CHARITY CASE – The government has appointed a former Keating Minister and an all-round solid individual, Gary Johns, as the new commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

The charity industry is freaking out, which pretty much means it’s a sound appointment.

Labor shadow spokesman for charities and non-for-profits, Andrew Leigh, said “putting Gary Johns in charge of the charities commission is like putting Ned Kelly in charge of bank security”. Except that Johns is there to protect the taxpayers’ and donors’ money.

Community Council of Australia CEO, David Crosbie, said this was a “bizarre appointment” that sent a “signal to charities the government is out to get them”.

Mark Purcell, CEO of the Australian Council for International Development, in turn said “We’re concerned that the government’s game plan is to have to the charity regulator tie up charitable critics of government policy between now and the next election.”

Charities in Australia is a $100 billion plus industry, employing around 10 per cent of Australia’s workforce. Most of the money that Australians so generously donate to charities is spent on management, administration, and fundraising, so really, when you put a few dollars in a donation bucket you’re mostly supporting the employment of an awful lot of people who might have otherwise had problems finding gainful employment. So you are doing something good, but not the good that you think you are doing. The charities sector is just a big non-government bureaucracy, whose main interest lies in self-perpetuation and expansion. No wonder the sector prefers a commissioner who will lay them on their back and scratch their belly instead of inquiring where the donations are going and how the generous tax concessions are being used.

Good luck Gary, you will need it.