A man who referred to Indigenous women on welfare as "cash cows" and argued women must be on contraception before receiving welfare has just been appointed as the boss of Australia's charities regulator.
Former Queensland Labor MP Gary Johns was appointed as the new commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) on Thursday morning.
The ACNC has the responsibility of "maintaining, protecting and enhancing public trust and confidence in the sector".
In July 2015, Johns told The Bolt Report that "a lot of poor women in this country, a large portion of whom are Aboriginal, are used as cash cows right, they are kept pregnant and producing children for the cash. Now that has to stop."
Prominent Indigenous women, including then Labor senator Nova Peris, Australia's first Indigenous woman elected to federal parliament, told BuzzFeed News that Johns' comments were "disgraceful."
“I’m getting sick and tired of supposedly educated people making these insulting and degrading remarks about Aboriginal people," she said.
“Mr Johns’ comments make the ridiculous assumption that Aboriginal women are stupid, can’t think for themselves and care more about welfare than their children."
That year Johns also penned a column in which he said the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians "cannot close while Aborigines live a lifestyle that harms them. Australians are fools and worse to ignore this."
In 2014 Johns wrote a column in which he argued that welfare for women should be linked to compulsory contraception.
"Some families, some communities, some cultures breed strife," he wrote. "Governments cannot always fix it. Compulsory contraception for those on benefits would help crack intergenerational reproduction of strife."
In 2015 he published the book No Contraception, No Dole.
Johns also attacked Australia's largest charity to raise awareness for depression, Beyond Blue, for raising concerns about the welfare of LGBTI Australians, who it said faced greater risks to their mental health because of "violence, prejudice and discrimination".
In 2014 he published a book titled The Charity Ball in which he wrote: “Some charity activities such as lobbying are of doubtful public benefit but profitable for the charity. Some charitable purposes are doubtful on other grounds.”
There was a "great deal of impure altruism" in the charity sector, he said.
“On the donor side, there is some self-regard and some agenda-chasing. On the charity side, there is agenda pushing and organisation enhancement. No set of rules could hope to create a clean market of pure motives and perfect outcomes.
"Doing good is often contestable."
He criticised Indigenous not-for-profits Reconciliation Australia and Recognise.
"The group, Recognise, is the officially sanctioned propaganda arm of the Australian Government."
Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh said the decision to appoint Johns was "like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank."
"It’s like putting Ned Kelly in charge of bank security," he said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News.
“Mr Johns has been a foe of charities and he has been one of the strongest critics of charities in Australia. He has attacked Indigenous charities, he has attacked mental health charities and he has attacked charities that attempt to engage in advocacy."
Johns would not cease to be a "foe to charities" in this new role, he said.
“Charities will be horrified by this appointment."
Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Gina Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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