The Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal Launch
TUESDAY, 16 APRIL 2002
SUBJECTS: Anzac Day; Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal; Charities; Australian economy.
Commissioner Kendrew, Les Owen, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
On Sunday week I will go down to the Camberwell RSL as I do every Sunday before Anzac Day; and we will march down Camberwell Road as we do every Sunday before Anzac Day; and we will be led by a Salvation Army band as we are every Sunday before Anzac Day, and it will remind me of the encounter I had three years ago when the band led off and I followed and the Diggers were behind me. And I have a problem marching because I am a little taller than your average Digger these days, and every step I think I take two inches more than I should be taking. And when the Salvation Army band with the big bass drum at the back came to a stop, I walked straight into his back. You can imagine his surprise when he turned around and he saw the Federal Treasurer on his back. And I said: "Look I am terribly sorry about that bandsman." He said: "I feel as if you've been on my back for a long time."
I want to say, for me it is an honour to be here and to launch the Red Shield Appeal. Who can fail to be thrilled when they see a Salvation Army uniform in a place where there is need and want? And yet how often do we look past that uniform and see that underneath it are ordinary people. People who have lives, and cares, and concerns, and families, worries, but who decide to make a commitment when they don the uniform, and when they don't, to their fellow men and women.
The Salvation Army probably has more respect than, or equal respect to any other charity, in our society. It is represented in every city and every State and nearly every country in the world. And you will see it outside the sporting grounds and in the pubs selling "The Warcry". I hope they still sell "The Warcry". They used to when I went to pubs which was a long time ago.
Providing chaplaincy services all over Australia including the Parliament House in Canberra. And I often say that Parliament House in Canberra, you will find more deprived people but you won't find any more needy people than in Parliament House in Canberra. And they have a certain respect that is borne out of a quality of character, I believe, which means that the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal is much wider than just the Salvation Army. It is something that enlists and enthuses Australians from all walks of life.
The origins of many of today's charitable institutions or in the Salvation Army's case, Christian institutions that do charitable work, goes back to the 19th Century and the days before our social security systems were as developed as they are today. Before the aged pension, groups like the Salvation Army were looking after older people. And before unemployment benefits, groups like the Salvation Army were looking after labour exchanges. And before the days of family benefits they were providing meals for hungry children. And as our social security systems developed, particularly in the post-war era, the rise of the welfare state, many would have thought that the Government would eventually get to a situation where it could take over all of this work. Because who could organise all of this work on a larger scale than the Government, and who could fund it better than the Government with its taxation powers. And I think many people would have said in the 40s or the 50s, that the age of the charitable institution, or the church or the religious institution had passed. But we knew it hadn't.
Because there was something different about the voluntary association. The first thing that we have learned about helping people in need is, it ennobles the giver as well as the receiver. That is the person that goes and works in the soup kitchen or helps the family that is in distress is ennobled as much as the person that receives it. That is one of the things (inaudible). And it gives a quality of character which I think we have all seen and admired in the work of the men and the women of the Salvation Army and indeed many other institutions. The second thing that we have learnt in Government is that services can be delivered through the voluntary association much more effectively because of the quality of character of the people that staff the institution. And I was watching some of these pie graphs up here, as Treasurers are wont to do, during our breakfast, and the overheads and the administration are so much lower in the delivery of services. If I could get some of those efficiencies in the delivery of my services I would be very happy. I watched even some of the bankers on my table here enviously looking at the low overheads. And nobody is more efficient in management than bankers and superannuation companies.
And so we have been learning that of course there is a role for government in income support, the aged pension, disability support, family allowance, the safety net, but there always will be a role for the voluntary organisations that come in with that breakthrough work. The quality of the giver and the quality of the receiver, the efficiency, and the quality of character that they bring.
That is why over recent years our Government has determined to encourage business and community partnerships and to encourage a greater culture of corporate philanthropy here in Australia. Australians, I think, deep down, are very generous people. They are the kind of people that when they see somebody, a Digger or a cobber or a mate, somebody in trouble, they want to reach out.
We want to encourage that attitude particularly with our Business and Community Partnerships Initiative which has removed a number of taxation impediments to corporate philanthropy. We have allowed tax deductions for gifts of property valued at more than $5,000 regardless of when they were purchased or acquired. Whereas the previous law required them to be held for twelve months, and it was sometimes sold before a donation could be made. We have announced new measures to allow deductions to be spread over five years so that if you don't have the taxable income in one particular year that can take advantage of the deduction for a charitable gift, you can spread or you can average. We operate now a Cultural Register and a Cultural Gifts Program where all gifts donated are exempt from capital gains tax. And we have introduced a new category of private charitable funds, which meet all existing standards of accountability and public responsibility yet no longer need to seek funds from the public. Individuals can set up their own private charitable fund.
These are measures which I think are an enhancement to the business community and to individuals particularly from a taxation point of view, a contribution to corporate philanthropy. And I would say to the business sector of Australia, there are some marvellous opportunities here and I am sure AXA has found it to be involved in these programs that not only benefit the receiver but do so much for the company and its staff in their involvement.
Now it has been a pretty good year for the Australian economy in 2001. Our economy grew at 4.1 per cent which was the highest growth rate amongst the developed nations of the world. So it may well be a good year for business to take up the challenge in relation to this Red Shield Appeal.
When I gave the Henry Bolte Lecture last year I talked about the spirit of the volunteer and I was trying to make the point that outside our Government there is a whole area of voluntary association that forms a society. That might be in the Rotary or it might be in the church or it might be in the synagogue or it might be down at the local SES or it might be in the CFA or it might be in the Scout Association, that there is a whole area of voluntary society that is outside government and outside government control and this is the area of personal interaction where we get so much of our care and concern and meaning that comes to our society and to our lives.
And there is a subset of voluntary society which is the charitable sector, which is part of voluntary society but is directed towards charitable activities. I wasn't just speaking of the charitable sector when I was talking about the volunteer society. But this is a subset and in this area where people enter into the network and the support, the giving and the receiving, and the care for each other. There is a special kind of richness that our society benefits from. And I would say to you as individuals and to people as corporates that there are benefits, obvious benefits, from being involved in that sector. And one of the ways I am sure is through this Red Shield Appeal. I heard Les say earlier, an appeal target of $51.5 million. And I am sure that is achievable and what is more, I am sure that that will be $51.5 million that is well spent. We can be sure that of that $51.5 million, as much as is possible gets into worthy causes.
And so at the end of what really has been a pretty good run for the Australian economy, because we have come through a Japanese recession, we have watched recession engulf many of the countries in our region, we have come through the United States downturn, a global downturn, the events of September the 11th and some major corporate convulsions here in Australia, we can look back and say it probably was one of the best years in terms of economic growth in Australia and in the good years maybe it is time to put a little down in the bank for the Red Shield Appeal, so that we know in appeals like this, that organisations like this are well catered for, because they cater well for the people that they serve.
I urge you to support the Red Shield Appeal with money, time and I hope that Australians in need for many, many years will be able to say: "Thank God for the Salvos."
Thanks very much.
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