Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the not-for-profit sector had been operating in a "climate of fear"under the Howard Government.
It had been forced to hold its tongue and not make public comments or risk losing funding.
Her comments came on the day The Australian revealed that Labor plans to rewrite government contracts with the non-profit sector to rip out gag clauses.
"We don't want to stifle debate, we want to ensure that this country ends up with the best possible policy. This requires us to get the gag off and listen to those who know what's going on,'' Ms Gillard said in Melbourne today.
"We want to get that fear well away, we want to make sure that they can have their say and still be treated fairly by governments.