The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of David Bradbury

David Bradbury

Assistant Treasurer, Minister Assisting for Financial Services & Superannuation and Minister for Competition Policy & Consumer Affairs

5 March 2012 - 18 September 2013

Media Release of 24/05/2013

NO.084

Joint media release with
Senator the Hon Penny Wong
The Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP
The Hon Mark Butler MP

Liberal Governments Gag Community Organisations

Liberal State Governments across Australia are prohibiting community and not-for-profit organisations from speaking out against their savage cuts.

The NSW Government has followed in Campbell Newman's footsteps, introducing gag clauses into funding agreements with community legal centres.

"Gag clauses are designed to silence those who advocate on behalf of the community and those most in need," Minister for Social Inclusion, Mark Butler, said.

"Under the Liberals, organisations risk losing their funding if they dare to publicly criticise the state government – it's simply outrageous," Mr Butler said.

"Campbell Newman has introduced gag clauses across Queensland, and gag clauses now seem to be on Premier O'Farrell's agenda."

The Gillard Government recently introduced the Not-for-Profit Sector Freedom to Advocate Bill 2013 to ban gag clauses in Federal Government contracts with the not-for-profit sector. The Bill passed the Senate last week, and is now before the House of Representatives.

"We want to ensure that no future Federal Government can stop groups from advocating on behalf of their community," Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator Penny Wong, said.

In 2008, Labor removed all gag clauses from contracts imposed by the previous Howard Government.

"This is what Liberals do. John Howard did it at a federal level and now we see Campbell Newman and Barry O'Farrell silence organisations across their states."

"The Liberals' agenda is clear. They cut to the bone and then try to silence any criticism," Senator Wong said.

Last week, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus wrote to the NSW Attorney-General to condemn this move.

"The not-for-profit sector should be free to engage in policy advocacy and political debate regardless of sources of funding," Attorney-General Dreyfus said.

"Any attempt by the NSW Government to gag advocacy is inimical to the freedom of political communication that is characteristic of Australia's robust and open democracy."

The Gillard Government recognises and values the important contribution of community legal centres.

"Insulting gag clauses are part of the Liberal Party's DNA. They clearly have no respect for the independence of the not-for-profit sector," said Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury MP.

"Tony Abbott must publicly condemn the use of gag clauses by his Liberal state colleagues, otherwise Australians can rightly assume that, deep down, the Federal Coalition supports silencing the voice of not-for-profit organisations."

24 May 2013