The Baillieu Government should immediately meet with the not-for-profit sector to hear their concerns about proposed changes to laws governing Victoria’s 37,000 incorporated associations, Shadow Minister for Consumer Protection, Lily D’Ambrosio said today.
The Associations Incorporation Reform Bill seeks to reform the laws governing incorporated associations, such as community groups, sporting clubs and not-for-profit organisations.
Ms D’Ambrosio said significant concerns had been raised with the Government about the Bill and the last minute amendments that were introduced when the Bill was debated in the Legislative Assembly last week.
“Despite the lack of consultation with stakeholders, the Baillieu Government rammed the Bill through the Legislative Assembly anyway,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
Ms D’Ambrosio said that while Labor was broadly supportive of the objectives of the Bill, issues had been raised concerning the Government's amendments to the legislation and drafting deficiencies.
“The Minister for Consumer Affairs, Michael O’Brien, pushed the Bill through Parliament despite a request from the Opposition and the Victorian Bar to defer it to provide a fair opportunity for stakeholders to properly consider the details.
“In a highly unusual move, Mr O’Brien proposed an extraordinary 28 amendments to his own Bill, literally on the eve of the bill being debated.
“This is a clear admission by the Minister that the Bill was not ready to be presented for debate by the Parliament.
“Mr O’Brien must realise that consultation is not a one-way street. It’s about genuinely listening to the concerns of the community”.
The Victorian Bar wrote to Mr O’Brien on 28 March urging the adjournment of the debate “in order that debate on the Bill be informed by a proper consideration of the views of the practising legal profession”.
The Victorian Bar was further concerned that a significant number of provisions contained in last minute amendments were “unintelligible” to the average person, defeating the Bill’s main objective to make the law governing incorporated associations easier to understand.
Ms D’Ambrosio said that the previous Labor Government had successfully undertaken significant reforms of the laws regulating the not-for-profit sector.
“Mr O’Brien’s approach to this issue clearly indicates that he is out of touch and unwilling to listen to the concerns of key Victorian community organisations and stakeholders".
The Bill is due to be debated in the Legislative Council in two weeks.