When first introduced to Parliament in July 1908 by then Prime Minister, Sir Joseph Ward, the Incorporated Societies Bill was intended to provide “a simple method by which societies established for any purpose, other than pecuniary gain”, could be become incorporated. A key underlying objective of the 1908 reform of the “Unclassified Societies Registration Act” was to ensure that not-for-profit organisations would become obliged to furnish financial returns, (which was not required under the predecessor legislation). While providing a mechanism to improve governance of community organisations, it was also an enforcement mechanism to prevent revenue leakage from Government.

(Sir Joseph Ward, Prime Minister, was the architect of the Incorporated Societies Act, 1908)

The proposed reform of the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 was first mooted a decade ago, in 2011. In 2021, the new Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, the Hon. David Clark, aims to introduce legislation to Parliament which seeks to update law first enacted over a century ago.

The Association sees the opportunity for legislative (and associated regulatory) reform as one of great significance for community sport. In 2019, the Association first wrote to then Minister, the Hon. Kris Faafoi, suggesting that further consideration of the impact of the proposed reforms on the governance of community sport was needed. As evidence of in support of this suggestion, the Association pointed to the fact that in 2019 alone, 350 not-for-profit sport organisations were dissolved by the Registrar of Incorporated Societies for their failure to meet their minimum regulatory obligations. As the Association has learned, many dissolved societies continue to operate as unincorporated entities, exposing their volunteers to potential risk.

It is therefore of considerable relief to the Association that the current Minister has agreed (in recent correspondence to the Association), that "any changes to the Act should seek to improve, rather than impair, the governance of sporting - and indeed all - societies". Moreover, the Minister has noted that Cabinet is now considering ,"suggestions aimed at moderating the new obligations the draft legislation would impose, particularly on smaller societies", while also inviting the Association "to make a submission to the relevant select committee, once the Parliamentary process is underway".

The Association is pleased that Government is in agreement with its overall view of the impact of the legislation, that consideration is now being given to the impact of increased regulation on smaller entities staffed by volunteers and that the Association (on behalf of amateur sport nationally), will also have the opportunity to address Parliament on this important area of reform. If you would like to contribute to the Association’s submission, please click here.