The new Charities Bill 2013—passed by both Houses of Parliament last week—has been a long time coming.
The Bill defines the meaning of charity and charitable purpose, which has largely been determined based on over 400 years of common law. It has not previously been comprehensively defined in statute for the purposes of Commonwealth law.
For AMPAG members, and the wider performing arts sector, the Bill provides greater clarity because the definition of charitable purpose includes an ‘advancing culture’ category—explained as increasing the public appreciation of arts, music or literature, national identity and heritage and includes:
• the promotion and fostering of culture
• the promotion of and participation in the arts, including literature music, the performing arts and visual arts.
AMPAG is also pleased that the Bill spells out an entity may engage in activities that are not intrinsically charitable provided the activities further or aid its charitable purpose. Many of our members carry out fundraising activities and other commercial activities that while not intrinsically charitable, do only contribute to their charitable purpose.
The same principles apply in determining charitable purpose to peak bodies established by charities to further their charitable purpose. This is important for AMPAG itself in continuing its work on behalf of its members.
Charities Bill 2013
Charities Bill Explanatory Memorandum