Media Release

For release: Tuesday May 10, 2011

The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the Government’s boost to overseas aid in tonight’s budget but remained concerned about a move to tax charities.

ACL Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton welcomed the $477 million per year increase to helping the poor which takes Australia’s giving to $4.8 billion or 0.35 per cent of Gross National Income.

The budget showed the Government was on track to meet its election promise to increase aid to 0.5pc of GNI by 2015-16.

“Despite the Global Financial Crisis and our own natural disasters, Australia remains a rich country compared to many of our neighbours and we can afford to be generous with our overseas aid, particularly when 22,000 children die each day from preventable conditions.

“However, the Government’s target is still well below the Millennium Development Goal which calls for rich nations to increase aid to 0.7pc of GNI by 2015 as part of a plan to halve world poverty,” Mr Shelton said.

While supportive of the MDGs, ACL was disappointed by the Government’s decision in 2009 to allow some of Australia’s overseas aid money to be used to fund abortions when the money could have been spent on saving mothers’ and babies’ lives.

Meanwhile, ACL remained concerned about plans to tax the commercial earnings of charities which did not contribute to the charitable purpose of the organisation.

“Because the overwhelming majority of charities with commercial arms plough profits back in to the charity, it is not known why this new tax is necessary and what other administrative burdens might come with it,” Mr Shelton said.

“The case has not been made for going against the Henry Review recommendation not to tax charities and ACL remains concerned there may be unintended consequences for churches and charities.”

Mr Shelton said the announcement that a Not for Profit Commission would be established was welcome as it would be independent of the Australian Taxation Office which had a conflict of interest when dealing with charities.