UnionsACT urges ACT Labor to reverse ‘unprecedented’ $5m gift to corporate charity

UnionsACT will urge the ACT Labor Government to reverse the decision to gift $5 million in taxpayer funds to a corporatised charity, at Saturday’s Labor Party Conference.

The decision to provide funds to a private charitable fund to distribute as grants, without competitive tender or public consultation, is unprecedented in the ACT.

UnionsACT will raise the following concerns at the ACT Labor Conference:

  1. The decision was conducted without public consultation and without competitive tender.
  2. The $5m in public funds will be administered by a private charity that is not accountable to the public and is not accountable to ACT public sector standards.
  3. There are two potential conflict of interest with Hands Across Canberra administering the funds:
    1. The Board of Hands Across Canberra includes the Director General of the Community Services Directorate, which creates perception that his position on the Board may have privileged Hands Across Canberra to be selected to administer the Chief Ministers Trust
    2. The Hands Across Canberra CEO and Public Officer was previously contracted by the ACT Government to “write and deliver a philanthropy strategy”. The perception is that this may have unduly privileged Hands Across Canberra to be selected to administer the Chief Ministers Trust
  4. The proper administration of the $5 million funding for the Chief Ministers Trust should be performed by public servants, who are accountable to the public and governed by public sector standards.

The following quotes are attributable to Alex White, secretary of UnionsACT:

“UnionsACT is deeply concerned that the ACT Government has gifted an unprecedented $5 million to an unaccountable, unelected private charity.

“As far as we are aware, the ACT Government has never handed over public money to a private charitable fund to dispense grants for social services.

“This has clear parallels to the controversy surrounding the Federal Liberal Government’s outrageous grant of $444m to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

“The proposed creation of the Chief Ministers Fund with a $5 million gift of public funds will be of little consolation to the thousand low paid, casualised staff in the community and social services sector.

“We urge ACT Labor and the Government to reverse this decision, and consult with workers and clients in the community sector.”