The Federal Government went into caretaker mode around midday yesterday but not before some last minute micro-pork barreling.

The prolific Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator George Brandis, was the offender, revealing in a press release at 11.35am, the addition of “another 22 Australian cultural organisations” which have been added to the Register of Cultural Organisations, allowing donations to them to be tax deductible:

  • Canberra Glassworks Foundation
  • Kulture Break Donation Fund
  • Music for Everyone Public Fund
  • Artspace Visual Arts Centre Ltd
  • The Irish National Association of Australasia Public Cultural Fund
  • Parramatta Cultural Trust
  • Djilpin Arts Donations Fund
  • The Northern Territory Anglican Foundation for the Promotion of Aboriginal Art and Literature Ltd Gift Fund
  • Camerata of St John’s Inc Donation Fund
  • Feral Arts Corp Ltd The Gift Fund Account
  • The Wagner Society in Queensland Inc Public Donations Fund
  • Adelaide Chamber Singers Supporters’ Fund
  • Lutheran Media Inc Gift Fund
  • Slipstream Circus Donations Fund
  • Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Holdings Fund
  • Ausglass (The Australian Association of Glass Artists) Fund
  • Australian Poetry Centre Inc Gift Fund Account
  • Flare Dance Company Fund
  • Human Rights Arts & Film Festival Gift Fund
  • Rawcus Theatre Company Public Fund
  • Small House Records Ltd Gift Fund
  • Australian Dance Council – Ausdance WA – Public Gift/Donations Fund

“These 22 additional entries to the Register mean there are now well over 1,000 cultural organisations able to accept tax deductible donations from the public,” Senator Brandis said. “Since its inception in 1991, organisations have been able to attract around $364.7 million in additional income from private sources with the support of the Australian Government’s Register of Cultural Organisations.

The day before, the Senator and his department had forgiven the Sydney Dance Company’s debt with a $1.5 million grant, in addition to other money paid to it through the Arts Council.

It’s not that decisions such as this are to be objected to. It’s a quiet and painless way to encourage public donations with the Federal Government using the tax system as the carrot (and there are some purists who object to that).

It’s just there has been a backlog of decisions required and an indolent department has suddenly realised these could be lost in the system or not granted because of the election, so they whip them out just before the caretaker mode begins.

Why not make these decisions in a timely manner? It means the organisations get to start fundraising much sooner.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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