We recently received an update from Dave Henderson, on behalf of himself and Sue Barker, who have been heavily engaged in submitting on, and monitoring progress on the government’s review of the Charities Act 2005. The update reads:


“It’s been a while since we have been in touch, but we felt it’s timely to give you an update. We wanted to share with you our letter to Hon Grant Robertson, following a meeting with him.


The Charities Act Review has been delayed by Covid lockdowns, but DIA is continuing work on it as time allows. You may be aware the Department has made limited releases of three sets of discussion papers exploring different aspects of the Act and possible changes. 


This is not the first principles review of the Act that was promised by Labour going into government, and the areas covered are not the changes that were called for by the 363 written submissions in March – May 2019, in response to the Department’s discussion document and the roadshow where Sue and I provided an alternative view, alongside the Departmental presentation. 


Instead these are a narrow set of areas that the Department has decided to address, and has the agreement of the Minister (now Priyanca Radhakrishnan) and Cabinet to try to process through Parliament before the next election, in late 2023. After so many delays and unfulfilled promises, a decision has been made that the promised full review cannot be done, and it is better to be seen to “do something”. (Note that it was in 2017, when Peeni Henare was Minister, that Cabinet first decided not to honour the commitment to conduct a proper first principles review).


Sue has been continuing her work on the Law Foundation Fellowship, What does a world Leading Framework of Charities Law Look Like? even as we continue to work with DIA at every opportunity. The Core Reference Group has met with DIA Policy team to share our perspective on the process generally, and on each of the draft policy papers. We acknowledge the valuable input of Tangata Whenua and Pacifica members of the CRG, in this process.


Recently the opportunity arose for Sue and I to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson. Our core message was fairly blunt; under the current process DIA is going to produce a paper for Cabinet probably in November, with a set of proposals that do not meet what the government has promised to the sector. Nor do they address the key issues that were prioritised by the 363 submitters. This will be problematic for the government if and when those proposals are turned into draft laws, and are sent to a Select Committee to hear submissions. It would be better to stop DIA’s process now, and do the proper independent review. Sue produced a follow-up letter to Grant Robertson, and that has been seen by him. A copy is attached for your information.


Sue and I also recently made written and oral submissions to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Select Committee, on the Incorporated Societies Bill. Copies are on the Parliament website at: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_109429/tab/submissionsandadvice .


Finally, we continue to post material to the Facebook page, Charities Act Review 2020; https://www.facebook.com/groups/1932023316889903/


Ngā mihi o te ra,

Dave Henderson, Trust Democracy

Sue Barker, Sue Barker Charities Law”


Thanks to Sue Barker for permission to reproduce this post.

See also this earlier post on this site.