In December 2017, the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, the Hon. Michael Sukkar MP, announced that the Honourable Dr Gary Johns had been appointed as the Commissioner of the ACNC, for a period of 5 years.
Dr Johns has previously held roles as a Director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Associate Professor at the Australian Catholic University, and an Adjunct Professor at the Queensland University of Technology Business School.
He has served as a member of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership, and has wide-ranging experience in regulation, public service and policy, serving as an Associate Commissioner of the Productivity Commission and representing the electorate of Petrie in the Federal Government from 1987 to 1996. He also served as a Minister in the Keating government across a range of portfolios.
Dr Johns was also a columnist for The Australian, and has authored a number of books on charities and the not-for-profit sector.
We sat down with new ACNC Commissioner to learn a little more about him and his priorities for the ACNC.
Why did you take the role of ACNC Commissioner?
I have been observing the charity sector for a long time and I thought this was an opportunity to see if I could do some good within the very disciplined role of Commissioner. As Commissioner, my job is to provide information to help the public understand the work of the sector and to support transparency and accountability in the sector.
What do you hope to accomplish within the next year?
The key thing will be to make it possible for donors to come to our website and find relevant charity information that helps them fulfil their desire to give to a particular cause. The ACNC Charity Register currently allows donors to verify individual charities and access their records, but it is not possible search by cause. We are currently exploring options to make this happen.
Describe the charity sector in Australia in three words?
Huge, variegated and opaque.
What is the proudest moment in your career?
Being elected to the Federal Parliament and subsequently into the Ministry.
What is your secret talent?
What is your first job?
I was a storeman in a wine warehouse in Melbourne; it was a great job!
Away from the ACNC, what are your interests?
I have always loved sport, especially golf and tennis. I also love conversation and crime novels. My favourite authors are Ian Rankin and Michael Connelly.