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NFP specialist joins new charity regulator

A leading figure in the not-for-profit sector will leave his practice next month to take up a senior position on the new Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC).

Murray Baird, a partner at Melbourne-based firm Moores Legal, has been appointed as the Assistant Commissioner (general counsel) to the ACNC, which will be operational from October.

During his 35-year stint at Moores, Baird pioneered the firm’s not-for-profit (NFP) practice advising countless charities, educational institutions and churches on business and corporate governance issues, helping the practice to grow into one of the largest of its kind in Australia.

“The not-for-profit sector is not only significant but requires strong accountability and transparency. As a result, it has become more professional over the last 20 years,” said Baird.

“It has been my view that as the sector has developed it has needed professional advisors who are well prepared and have a professional approach.”

Baird’s expertise was honed during a landmark case in 2008, representing Word Investments, in which the High Court affirmed that charities could be involved in commercial activity for the purposes of fund raising.

“It was a significant test case that now governs charity law,” he said.

Libby Klein will take over the reins from Baird next month as a partner of Moores’ NFP group. Klein acknowledged the outstanding contribution made by Baird during more than 30 years with Moores.

Baird said he is proud of his time at Moores but is now looking forward to a new set of challenges in his role with the ACNC.

“I’ve been able to make a contribution to the development of the not-for-profit practice at Moores, but the opportunity to get involved with the new regulator of the charity sector was something I couldn’t pass up,” he said.

The establishment of the ACNC will place significantly increased pressure on NFP organisations to report their operations. The new national regulator will be an independent statutory body that will establish reporting requirements for every NFP and charity.

“The ACNC will have jurisdiction for all charities that work on a not-for-profit basis and will have a very wide remit,” said Baird. “Now that the sector will be regulated and transparent, the demand for professional services to this sector will continue to grow dramatically.”

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