Finance Minister Penny Wong
Finance Minister Penny Wong Inga Williams

Wong's push to give not-for-profit organisations a voice

THE Federal Government has urged all state and territories governments to make laws ensuring the not-for-profit sector can speak out on political issues.

Finance Minister Penny Wong gave a speech to the charity sector on Monday, announcing new Commonwealth laws would be created to prevent gag orders being applied to the sector.

Senator Wong said Prime Minister Julia Gillard would write to the second tier governments to ensure charities can still speak out.

"This Bill embodies a belief in freedom of speech. It is predicated on the principle that advocacy from the not-for-profit sector is important and should not be restricted," she said.

"It will protect the voice of your sector, banning gag clauses from all Commonwealth contracts."

The move comes months after the Queensland Government introduced new regulations to gag charities from political statements.

That order, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said at the time, was in order to ensure non-profits were focussed on their job at hand, not political advocacy.

While the Federal Government's planned laws will prevent gagging of the sector regarding Commonwealth funding, the state government's laws will still apply to those groups receiving state funds.