Michelle Lensink

Trustee (Charitable Trusts) Amendment Bill

This speech is in relation to the Trustee (Charitable Trusts) Amendment Bill and to make a brief contribution.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (18:05): I will be brief. This is a small bill. The issue has arisen and I understand was foreshadowed by the Liberal opposition during the passage of the health care bill in 2008, and it is an issue that relates to tax deductibility. We previously had a number of hospitals, particularly country hospitals, which were constituted under their own boards and they are now local boards. With the passage of that particular piece legislation they were incorporated under health advisory councils. This knocked off their deductibility status with the tax office, as they were then associated as a government body. I understand there are some millions held in trust by Country Health and some non-government organisations, such as the Red Cross, for those purposes.

Many members on this side of the house, in particular, would be familiar with the good work of the hospital auxiliaries in raising funds, and they would see it as appropriate, as indeed we would, that those funds would revert to those communities through their own hospitals. So the tax office did not recognise deductible gift recipient status and this bill will correct that. It is not an anomaly: I think it is probably fair to characterise it as an unintended consequence of the health care bill that passed through this place a couple of years ago. I commend the bill to the council and look forward to the probably brief committee stage of the debate.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister for the City of Adelaide) (18:07): I thank honourable members for their second reading contributions. I have also been advised by other Independents and minor parties of their support, and I thank them for that.

Indeed, this bill is the result of an unintended consequence, as the Hon. Michelle Lensink has outlined. It seeks to make amendments to the Trustee Act. The bill ensures that a gift fund established to hold donations or other gifts for the benefit of a government instrumentality (such as a public hospital or ambulance service) can hold the donations or gifts or trust without being at risk of becoming an invalid charitable trust from the perspective of the ATO; and a fund established, for example, by a HAC would therefore be considered charitable, despite its connection to government. The bill will enable a gift fund to operate in a way that is consistent with ATO advice.

In relation to the question asked by the Hon. John Darley, I am advised that the health advisory councils (HACs) are not hospitals and therefore cannot be proclaimed under the Public Charities Funds Act. Therefore, we are required to proceed with this amendment bill. Again, I thank honourable members for their contributions and look forward to the committee stage.

Bill read a second time.

In committee.

Clause 1.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: It would be appreciated if the minister could perhaps outline what sort of funds are residing within trusts that are unable to be accessed at this stage.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: At this point, I do not have the details of any exact figures. However, I am advised that it would most likely involve land, other real property and donations.

Clause passed.

Remaining clauses (2 and 3), schedule and title passed.

Bill read a third time and passed.

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