With all greatest respect to the previous speaker, I say that the final comments of her contribution—and we do see many a commonality—were the greatest lot of rubbish I have heard in recent times. I will systematically speak to each of the points.
Honourable members interjecting—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): Order!
Mr BUCHHOLZ: As you should keep good and fine order in this House, Mr Deputy Speaker. The bill we are debating is the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Repeal) (No. 1) Bill 2014. Predominantly the bill seeks to repeal an act that was introduced by the previous Rudd-Gillard government. During the course of my contribution I will highlight reasons and, at every point, my name will appear in the Hansard opposing the introduction of this bill.
The reason I am so passionate about the repealing of this act is that, before coming to politics, I had quite a successful transport operation. The genesis of my transport business was that I started with one vehicle. My wife and I had one vehicle that ran between Rockhampton and Emerald, and I grew the business to a couple more trucks operating around Queensland. I was encouraged to apply for a sort of chamber of commerce regional award for business excellence, or whatever the award was. I nominated and I won the chamber of commerce award. I felt most humbled by the fact that I had been recognised by my peers in the community.
A dark hand appeared on my shoulder from nowhere and a voice said, 'You have made many millions of dollars from this community. What have you given back?' The hand was no other than that of the chairman of the local Lifeline Central Queensland branch. He said, 'It is now your time to give back to the community. As the chair, I am offering you a board position to get involved with Lifeline Queensland.' I said that I would be more than happy to make a contribution, but I am Catholic; I am not of the faith of Lifeline. He said, 'I'm not reaching out to you because I want your religious persuasion. I'm reaching out to you because I want your business excellence. I want you to come and influence our business.'
Most charities rely on the philanthropy of the community. They rely on good business management to run their businesses efficiently, and at the other end of the spectrum they rely on the outstanding contributions from trained counsellors and from those who are far more generous of their time than I ever believed I could ever be for the Lifeline family. There are a number of business elements to the Lifeline business.
I will make a long story short as I do not want to bore the House because I am aware that, at this time of the year, we are all in a festive mood. There are Christmas parties on, hosted by both sides of the House, celebrating the great work that is done by staff in this place.
The chairman said to me, 'You need to make a contribution to pay back the community which you have made money from,' and which I continue to do. Proudly, I can say that, during my three years as a Lifeline executive for Central Queensland, I increased their business turnover by 318 per cent. Every cent of that money ended up back in that community. I am open about it; I am not your counsellor. I may have been gifted with a good business mind, but I am not the bloke you need to come to with a sad story because you will find little sympathy. There are others more confident in that area. I expanded my business interests from Central Queensland further south into the state. I opened and established another seven transport depots, employed probably another 50 men and bought a fleet of trucks.
The state board of Lifeline reached out and said, 'We could use your skills.' I accepted a position as a state board director of Lifeline and I systematically set about restructuring the entire governance procedures for the state of Queensland. Today, I am led to believe that those governance procedures still lead them to profitable outcomes each year—a mighty outcome.
It is because of that passion and because I gave those many hours freely, that I stand here and try to bring some type of efficiency back to the not-for-profit sector, because at every step of this debate I have opposed this. Listen to me closely. This bill was brought to this House under the principle that it was to reduce red tape. Guess how the Rudd-Gillard government was going to reduce red tape and reduce bureaucracy?
Mr Laming: By increasing it!
Mr BUCHHOLZ: The member for Bowman is dead right. They were going to create another level of bureaucracy. Now, you may think, 'How can this be? How could someone think, for one moment, that the best way to reduce red tape and bureaucracy is to create another layer?'
Let me talk you through the process of how this transpired. This was at a time when stimulus programs were being created by the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments. I am talking about programs such as the insulation program, where billions of dollars were spent to put insulation batts into ceilings of houses around Australia. They got halfway through that program. Unfortunately, Australian lives were lost. God bless those lives. Houses owned by families were burnt to the ground—decimated. Lives were destroyed. For the remainder of the program, the money was spent pulling the insulation out of those homes.
The logic was chaotic at the time the bill creating the ACNC was brought to the House; the nature of the process was somewhat dysfunctional.
Mr Brendan O'Connor: Just to speak to the bill!
Mr BUCHHOLZ: I am speaking directly to the bill and how dysfunctional the genesis of this was. Members on the other side of the House say, 'Speak to the bill.' I gladly go back to how poor the reasoning for the original bill was.
The extra layers of bureaucracy were brought about to create the ACNC. I remind the members on the opposite side of the House that the ACNC's core role was to go back to the states of Australia and to say to them, 'You need, as a state, to reduce the level of bureaucracy that you have. You need to reduce the levels of bureaucracy that you have in the states so that we can provide a dividend. That is our mantra. That is our charter.' That was the primary reason this organisation was established. You should never forget the reasons this was brought to the House. It was poorly thought out. It was poorly executed.
I will proudly stand here defending every volunteer in Australia who gives their time freely, whether it be at a surf lifesaving club, a rural fire brigade, Lifeline, or any other charity in Australia. This is a blight on their collective activities in trying to make Australia a better place. I believe that activities in the Year of the Volunteer, last year or the year before, showed that collectively the value of our volunteers around Australia—for the energies that they provide at local, state and federal government levels—is somewhere in the vicinity of $15 billion a year, calculated on the basis of what it would cost if we were to pay those beautiful volunteers who give their time on so many fronts.
Before we took office we said that we would oppose this. The government's position on this should come as no shock to anyone. I spoke in this House and opposed the original legislation when the then government, Labor, decided that the best way to get rid of bureaucracy was to create another level of bureaucracy. From a commercial perspective that was bizarre. It was bizarre then and it is equally perplexing to this day.
Mr Frydenberg: Twenty-one thousand new regulations! The red-tape tsars!
Mr BUCHHOLZ: Yes. It is bizarre and perplexing. I want to leave some time for the member for Bowman. Did you want to speak?
Mr Brendan O'Connor: What are you, the Speaker of the House? Just sit down or stand up!
Mr BUCHHOLZ: I can understand the frustration that would come from the other side of the House, because this is not your finest hour. As an opposition this is not your finest hour—bringing to the House your perplexing logic. So many times, from an economic perspective, the coalition is brought to office for one particular reason, and that is to fix the economic mess—to fix the mess that has been left by logic which is sometimes questionable.
I will leave you with those comments. As they put their heads on their pillows tonight, every volunteer who gives time for a charity group in Australia can rest easy knowing that a coalition government—who gave a commitment before the election—will very much look after their interests and make sure that there is an efficient work place. I would now like to commend this bill to the House, and I encourage those that have a little bit of time for our volunteers to commend this bill to the House.
The SPEAKER: Thirty seconds goes to the member for Bowman.