Responding to the report released today by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security that suggests amending to the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (FITS) Bill to exempt the work of Australian charities, Oxfam Australia’s Head of Public Policy and Advocacy Rachel Ball said:
“Oxfam Australia welcomes the Committee’s recommendation that the FITS Bill be amended to provide an exemption for charities.
“This is a sensible amendment. Oxfam’s advocacy on global issues like poverty alleviation, climate change and migration make an important contribution to public debate and decision-making in Australia. It is to be expected that we would draw on our work with our international partners to inform our positions.
“We are pleased that this work, which is fundamental to achieving our vision of empowering communities to tackle poverty, is not going to be mired in excessive and unwarranted regulatory requirements.
“These amendments would mean Oxfam’s vital work can continue – for example, working with governments in the Pacific to advocate on around the devastating effects of climate change on their nations.
“However, the FITS Bill was introduced as part of a package of three bills. We remain concerned about the potential for the Espionage Foreign Interference Bill and Electoral Legislation Amendment (Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 to unduly stifle advocacy from charities and not-for-profits.
“Far from being a threat to the Australian public, it is in fact critical to a functioning democracy that non-government organisations are able to advocate for promote good practice and human rights. We are glad the Committee has acknowledged this through its suggested amendments.”
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