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Acting for you, March 2023

by CATHERINE MAXWELL FGIA FCG General Manager, Policy & Advocacy, Governance Institute of Australia

Parliamentary Codes of Conduct Update


A code of conduct for Federal politicians and their offices has been passed by both houses of Parliament. Governance Institute has long advocated for behavioral standards in Parliament, with CEO Megan Motto appearing before a Joint Parliamentary Committee in September 2022 to advise the Joint Committee on what constitutes best practice workplace governance.

#FixFundraising Update

The long overdue agreement between Commonwealth, State and Territory Treasurers to harmonise fundraising regulations was announced in mid-February. The new National Fundraising Principles aims to modernise and streamline compliance measures across the different jurisdictions, removing inconsistencies and red tape.

This is a significant milestone for Australia’s charity sector, and a great result for our #FixFundraising coalition.

Climate Related Financial Disclosures – Joint peak bodies submission

Following on from the ‘Australian Voices’ Submission to the International Sustainability Standards Board in July 2022, Governance Institute joined 10 other professional, industry, investor and research bodies including, Australasian Investor Relations Association, Australian Shareholders’ Association, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and CPA Australia to make a joint submission to Treasury on the climate related financial disclosure consultation.

It recommended that:

  • Clear, transparent, comprehensive and comparable disclosure of sustainability-related information needs to be part of the foundation of a well-functioning financial system with an introduction of mandatory climate-related disclosure requirements in Australia.
  • A robust, useable, and internationally aligned climate-related disclosures framework will help to channel more capital into activities consistent with Australia’s national emissions reduction goals. The framework should form a key pillar of Australia’s sustainable finance architecture alongside a sustainable finance taxonomy, agreed sector decarbonisation pathways, strong climate targets and real economy climate policies.

Climate Related Financial Disclosures – Governance Institute submission

Governance Institute made a separate submission to Treasury ’s climate related financial disclosure public consultation identifying areas of particular concern to members. In our submission we:

  • Expressed support for aligning coverage with existing reporting and disclosure thresholds rather than creating new entirely new bespoke thresholds, and a phased approach over an appropriate timeframe for the introduction of mandatory disclosure. The initial group of entities to make disclosure would include large ASX listed and large private or disclosing entities (of the same size), all ASX listed entities with a market capitalisation of more than $300 million, and all government and public entities.
  • Noted that our members do not support the concept of a double materiality test, a concept not commonly used in Australia.
  • Advocated that appropriate safeguards (such as safe harbour provisions) will be critical to incentivising accurate, comprehensive and timely disclosure without reporting entities, their directors and officers taking on disproportionate liability risk. If the regime does not facilitate disclosure with safeguards in place, entities may be slow or reluctant to make information publicly available. We also commented that on the very real risk of class actions in relation to these disclosures absent appropriate safeguards.
  • Acknowledged that market practice will continue to evolve in relation to ESG disclosures, but expressed the view that requiring anything more than limited assurance of ESG disclosures during the early phases of the new Standards will create a significant burden on reporting entities from a resource and cost perspective and that a phased approach to assurance and a limited assurance model is appropriate.
  • Expressed the view that the Australian Accounting Standards Board is currently the body best placed to have carriage of implementation of the Standards in Australia, provided it is properly resourced.

We will continue to keep members up to date on developments on this issue.

Scoping the Establishment of Federal Judicial Commission – The Merits and Design of a Potential Complaints-Handling Body Discussion Paper

Governance Institute made a submission to the Attorney General’s Department on the Federal Judicial Commission Public Consultation.

We recommended:

  • The establishment of a Federal Judicial Commission as the mechanism for raising allegations of poor conduct and/or bias of Federal judicial officers.
  • The Commission’s design has core judicial values front of mind, namely impartiality, transparency, equality, integrity, fairness and accountability.
  • A Commission that brings the federal judicial system into line with most state jurisdictions, thereby reinforcing the integrity and independence of Australia’s legal system.

We will continue to keep members up to date on developments on this issue.

Treasury Laws Amendment (Measures for Consultation) Bill 2023: Deductible Gift Recipient Registers Reform

Governance Institute made a submission to Treasury on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Measures for Consultation) Bill 2022 regarding deductible gift recipient registers reform.

As a long-term supporter of the ACNC, Governance Institute is pleased to see progress on reducing unnecessary regulatory burden on the Australian charitable and not-for-profit (NFP) sector and welcomes efforts to streamline NFP reporting requirements.

In our submission, we recommended:

  • Omitting the special condition requiring the maintenance of a gift fund.
  • Simplifying the process of updating an organisation or public fund’s key information.
  • Clarifying that reporting on statistical information about gifts made during an income year is not required to be made to the ‘Secretary’.
  • A wider review of the gift fund regime

We will continue to keep members up to date on developments on this issue.

Pre-Budget Submission 2023

Governance Institute made a submission to Treasury with recommendations for the 2023 Federal budget.

We recommended that the Government:

  • Adopts standardised, internationally aligned climate-related financial disclosure standards as a priority.
  • Ensures the competitiveness and efficiency of the financial markets by ensuring regulators have adequate legislative powers to address any potential anti-competitive conduct in relation to post trade equity market clearing and settlement functions, including the CHESS Replacement Project.
  • Reforms the current outdated state and territory laws on charitable fundraising and includes company secretaries on the ACNC register to enhance productivity for the NFP sector.
  • Undertakes significant consumer centred privacy and data security framework reform.
  • Continues the reform of the whistle-blower protection regime by enacting standalone whistle-blower protection legislation, applicable to the private sector) and establishes a lead agency to undertake the whistle-blower protection role.
  • Maintains the momentum to update the Corporations Act to make it technology neutral and shift it from its basis in a ‘hard copy’ 19th century world to a 21st century one as well as maintaining the impetus on the reform of other Treasury portfolio laws to also make them technology neutral.
  • Continues funding for the Modernising Business Registers Project and includes company secretaries in the Director ID reforms.


Climate Related Financial Disclosures — Joint Peak Bodies Submission — 24/02/23

Climate-related financial disclosure — 24/02/23

Scoping the Establishment of Federal Judicial Commission — 21/02/23

Treasury Laws Amendment (Measures for Consultation) Bill 2023: Deductible Gift Recipient Registers Reform — 17/02/23

Pre Budget Submission — 27/01/23



Media Releases

Governance Institute recommends broad investigative powers for new Federal Judicial Commission — 22/11/2023

Fundraising reform a welcome step to free charities from red tape — 16/02/2023

Governance Institute welcomes new code of conduct for parliamentary behaviour — 08/02/2022

Treasury commences consultation on regulation of digital platforms

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