Tuesday, June 05, 2012


The Charities Commission is a Crown Entity charged with overseeing the Charities Act 2005. Its functions include promoting public trust and confidence in the charitable sector, encouraging the effective use of charitable resources, and educating, registering, and monitoring charities. So why the hell is it advocating against the Gambling Harm Reduction Bill?

The Charities Commission must urgently retract an email it sent out to charitable organisations ramping up opposition to legislation designed to crack down on gambling, says Labour’s Internal Affairs Spokesperson Ruth Dyson.

“This is an extraordinary act from a Government agency which is supposed to be independent. It is completely inappropriate for the Chief Executive to circulate pro-gambling information to charitable groups, advocating that they oppose Te Ururoa Flavell’s Member’s Bill which seeks to reduce the harm of problem gambling.

“It’s even more unbelievable given the commission has previously failed to register agencies as charities because they’ve been involved in advocacy work!

This is indeed extraordinary. There are Crown Entities, such as the Human Rights Commission, Families Commission, and Children's Commission, which are charged with being an independent advocate on policy in their area. The Charities Commission is not one of these. While it does have a function of considering and making recommendations on matters relating to charities, that's a formal process, and not what its been doing. Instead, it seems to be simply advocating on behalf of charities reliant on gambling money, without any internal policy process or request from the Minister.

This goes well beyond the role envisaged in the Charities Act, or indeed by the Crown Entities Act. The public service is supposed to implement, not advocate. This needs to be investigated by the State Services Commissioner, and those responsible educated about their proper role as public servants.