So the government has put a $10,000 cap on grants to state-based environment councils and groups. Environment Minister Ian Campbell has defended the move , saying administration costs are being avoided, that too many groups were receiving money and that the cap means taxpayers’ money will go directly to on-the-ground programs, rather than being eaten up in administration costs.

What about the wider issue, though, of the privileges of the non-profit sector? In its cover story on 24 March, BRW estimated the sector was worth $70 billion. It called it a “$70 billion black hole” because of the lack of ATO supervision and went on to describe the sector as a “ticking time bomb”.

The issue has come up recently at Senate Estimates, with Liberal Senator Brett Mason and his friends putting some interesting questions to Tax Commissioner Michael Carmody (pages 65 to 78). Interestingly, Carmody didn’t seem to know much about the sector.

Peter Fray

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