Tell them ‘Hands-off! No silencing of Australians

Your ability to raise your voice about issues you care about is under threat. The federal government wants to change laws that will silence Australians and avoid accountability.

Charities work to support Australians, particularly those in need, and help put issues you care about at the centre of decision-making. But, the federal government's new laws will severely restrict advocacy and intimidate participation in public debate.

The new laws will tie charities up in red tape, rather than using crucial donations for the purpose they were given.

Essential funds for life-saving medical research, to alleviate poverty, to support Indigenous self-determination, and to protect our forests, rivers and wildlife are now at risk.

Restricting advocacy by charities sends a deeply troubling message – that our government is seeking to avoid accountability. Their actions would have a chilling effect on our democracy.

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Australian voices must not be silenced. Stand with us.

    Dear [your local MP’s name will be automatically entered],

    The Australian Parliament is currently considering three pieces of legislation that have far-reaching consequences for our democracy.

    The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017, the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017 and the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 are intended to stop foreign interference in the Australian electoral process and on national security.

    However, charities, community groups and other not-for-profit organisations have discovered the legislation will impose restrictions on them that will hamper their ability to advocate for First Australians, the poor, the homeless and the ill.

    The legislation will also put in jeopardy the ability of these groups to accept international philanthropic donations to fund their advocacy, which contributes significantly to public health, breakthrough medical research, improving access to education, supporting the rights of Indigenous Australians and the protection of our shared environment.

    The activities of charities are already strictly regulated by the Charities Act 2013 and the existing Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and are overseen by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC).

    Restricting advocacy by charities not only sends a deeply troubling message that government is seeking to avoid accountability, it also would have a chilling effect on informed public debates that are necessary for our democracy.

    The Parliament is soon to receive reports from the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security which have conducted inquiries into the legislation.

    I urge you to support the call from civil society to have all three bills withdrawn and redrafted, with proper and widespread consultation.

    Yours faithfully,
    [Your name will be automatically added]

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