Address to the Official 1999 Red Shield Appeal

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April 15, 1999
Doorstop Interview
April 21, 1999

Address to the Official 1999 Red Shield Appeal





Thank you for the honour of officially opening the 1999 Red Shield Appeal.

The Red Shield Appeal is the Salvation Army’s major annual fundraising drive.

The Business Appeal is one of the three main components of this drive complementing the National Doorknock which is held in late May and the Direct Mail Campaign. The projected cost of providing welfare services nationally for the Salvation Army in the forthcoming year is $250 million. Of this 83 per cent comes from Government grants, client contributions and institutional fundraising. The 17 per cent deficit – $42 million – is the goal of the Red Shield Appeal.

The only thing that concerned me about accepting today’s invitation was when I was informed that this is a budget deficit appeal. Budget deficit appeal. As you know budget deficits have no appeal for me, so I am hoping that this budget deficit appeal becomes a budget surplus appeal. To plagiarise a recent Treasurer’s Budget Speech we could call this appeal:

“Out of the red and into the black”

“Shielded from the red, striding for the black”

” Back in the black, right on track”

All of these phrases came to mind as I was marching in an Anzac Day march last Sunday (in my local electorate) as I do on an annual basis.

Leading the march was the Salvation Army Band, and behind it leading the diggers was me.

Now I am no marcher. And my legs are not standard army issue. They’re about 5 inches longer which means with each step I crib about 5 inches up on the people in front of me. So I started off following the bass drum in the Salvation Army Band at a distance of about 10 feet, after 20 paces I was crawling right up his back – which made him stop and me stop.

I could see from the look on his face that he was pretty surprised to see the Federal Treasurer in his back pocket. Or perhaps not. His hip pocket nerve wasn’t twitching. It was convulsing!

At the end of the ceremony a number of the bandsmen came across to say hello. One I knew – when he took off his officer’s cap – as the Director of a major health care provider, another was a local pharmacist.

Who does not recognise the uniform of the Salvation Army? Who does not admire it? But do you see the people underneath who wear it? Underneath those uniforms are ordinary people. I’m sure they would tell you that they are ordinary:- they have family arguments; they have minor car accidents; they dislike filling in their tax returns.

These are ordinary people. They just do extraordinary work.

The Salvation Army was founded by William Booth in 1865. It is now an international community dedicated to evangelistic and social enterprises. A well known Army motto is “With heart to God and hand to man”.

The Salvation Army is now represented in every city in Australia with some 369 Corps or congregations across the nation and a total membership of 74,000 people. You will see the Salvation Army running emergency relief programmes, nursing services, family support, drug rehabilitation programmes. You will see the Salvation Army outside sporting grounds and in the pubs selling the magnificent publication “The War Cry”. You will see the Salvation Army providing Chaplaincy services at Parliament House in Canberra. There may be more deprived locations but there are hardly more needy ones!

Of course when William Booth founded the Salvation Army in 1865 there was hardly a social security system in England, Australia or anywhere else for that matter. The state did not provide aged pensions. The state did not provide unemployment benefits. The state did not provide family assistance, disability pensions or universal medical treatment.

In many respects it was charitable institutions that began the first social security system. And throughout the next century as the State grew, as its capacity to deliver services grew, as its capacity to collect tax grew, social security increasingly became the responsibility of the State.

And in our country we have one of the most extensive social security systems in the world.

Does this mean that the role of the charity has been usurped by the state?

Does this mean that taxpayers who contribute to social security through the tax system are free of an obligation to contribute voluntarily?

I think if we went back 30 or 40 or 50 years many would have answered these questions in the affirmative. Many looked forward to a day when the resources of the state were great and efficient and when want and hardship could be eliminated.

Yet our experience has taught us that in any social security system no matter how well designed, no matter how extensive, there will always be people in need and want. Our experience has taught us that harnessing the private and charitable impulse delivers to those in need at a different level to even the best planned government services. Experience tells us somewhere deep down that it is still better to give than to receive.

So how do we give here in Australia?

In 1995 the Industry Commission report on charitable organisations found that, on a per capita basis, for every donation of $1 in Australia charities in the United States raised the equivalent of $5.89, charities in Canada raised $1.47 and charities in the United Kingdom raised $1.77. It was estimated in 1997 that total donations and other fundraising activity for charities was $2.7 billion. 73 per cent of this income came from individual donations and bequests and the remaining 27 per cent from corporate sponsorship and donations.

Individual donations including bequests amount to around $219 per tax payer, or $139 per taxpayer excluding bequests

Total fundraising provides 26% of the income of the charities surveyed, with government contributions making up 43% and ‘other income’ (including fees for service) providing the remaining 31%.

ATO tax data indicates that individual taxpayers claimed deductions donations totaling $546 million in 1996/97

Around 34% of taxpayers claimed a deduction with an average claim of $173.

Individuals with taxable incomes of $50,000 or more make up 11% of all taxpayers and account for 39% of donations claimed, with an average donation of $411

We can improve on our giving effort.

Building a culture of philanthropy in Australia

For its part, the Government wants to foster a stronger culture of philanthropy in Australia.

Facilitating such a culture is a legitimate role for government.

So last month the Government announced a package of taxation measures to promote philanthropy.

In response to recommendations that emerged from the Business and Community Partnerships Initiative the Government announced it would remove a number of taxation impediments to individual and corporate philanthropy, with measures to come into effect from 1 July 1999.

The changes will allow tax deductions for gifts of property valued at more than $5,000, regardless of when they were purchased or acquired. In contrast, existing law effectively requires donors to sell assets that they have held for more then twelve months and donate the proceeds, if they wish to obtain a tax deduction.

The new measure also provides a deduction for property that was not purchased by the owner, such as gifts and inherited items.

This measure could initially increase donations by around $45 million per annum, at a revenue loss of around $20 million per annum.

In addition, we will provide a capital gains tax exemption for testamentary gifts of property to bodies eligible to receive tax deductible donations.

This change should provide significant support to the efforts of charities to cultivate bequests.

The Government will also introduce a new category of private charitable funds. These funds will be required to meet all the existing standards of accountability and public responsibility but without the need to seek and receive funds from the public.

This measure will provide potential donors with greater freedom in the way in which they support philanthropic activities. It should foster new partnerships and a closer sense of engagement.

Finally, the Government will enhance the incentives for donations under the Cultural Gifts Program. Donations accepted by the Program will be exempt from capital gains tax.

There will also be a provision that allows deductions for donations under the Program to be apportioned over a period of up to five years. This will be of particular benefit to donors whose relatively low incomes may otherwise prevent them from fully utilising the deduction for high value gifts of cultural property.

Together these measures will provide a significant boost to Australian philanthropy, drawing attention to the value of contributing to those organisations who protect and service our most needy.

Volunteering for charity

Recently well-known pollster Rod Cameron published a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald entitled “I’m all right mate and to hell with you”.

It is not uncommon for the older generation to be despairing of the younger. After all the World War II generation despaired of the antics of the baby boomers in the sixties. Now it seems to be quite fashionable for the baby boomers to start despairing of their juniors – not of course on the grounds that they are too radical but on the grounds that they are not radical enough.

It is a good yarn and these sorts of discussions are culturally interesting but I think it overlooks another truth about Australian society.

There are many faults in Australia which need to be fixed. But there is still so much good. When you see Australians working in Kosovo with Albanian refugees, when you see young Australians joining volunteer bushfire brigades, going on walkathons, 40 hour famines, manning soup kitchens, helping elderly neighbours, volunteering to serve abroad, running youth groups, fellowships and church organisations you see a side of young Australia that is caring and generous, committed to practical help, realistic and dedicated.

And not all the bandsmen of the Salvation Army are middle aged.

In the suburbs, in the cities, in the regions, the country areas, the young and the old, there are hundreds of thousands of Australians going about their work unsung, unrecognised, undemanding but irreplaceable.

I haven’t given up on Young Australia. I see a quality and a commitment among some of our young people that is truly inspiring.

For those of you in the business community it’s been by and large a good year. We’ve come through the biggest financial crisis in our lifetimes. Australia is growing probably faster than any developed economy in the world. Our interest rates are low, our unemployment is falling and our economy is prosperous.

When you have a good year you put some grain in the store room to bank against the bad years. So for the Red Shield Appeal, not a budget deficit appeal, but a budget surplus appeal to put something aside for the future. For me it’s an honour to officially open this Appeal. And I do so in closing by reminding you of the publicity theme for the appeal: “Dig deep and thank God for the Salvos”.