Activists oppose accountability, again

September 1st, 2017

Activist groups who claim charity status to fund their campaigns are gearing up the outrage-o-meter as a Government review of their right to tax-exempt status rolls on.

In a process that commenced in 2015, the Government is examining a range of options to increase accountability for organisations that claim special status as a charity and deductible gift recipient.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the very groups that constantly call for corporate Australia to be more accountable and transparent are screaming from the rooftops.

As this piece from the ABC’s 730 program shows, the Government’s proposed reforms aim to protect the status of groups who actually do environmental work, while cracking down on those who claim to do it, but in fact spend most of their time protesting.

As we’ve said before, any examination of the somewhat opaque financial arrangements of anti-fossil fuel activists is bound to raise the hackles of those under scrutiny, and so it is that a number of enviro-activists have rushed to claim a conspiracy to ‘silence’ them.

The Government’s consultation paper  describes some of the concerns that led to the initial review:

“There are also concerns that some charities and DGRs undertake advocacy activity that may be out of step with the expectations of the broader community, particularly by environmental DGRs which must have a principal purpose of protecting the environment.

It would be difficult for organisations to claim that blocking roads, footpaths and office entrances, interfering with machinery and trespassing on private property could be regarded as “providing a public benefit.

As NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee wrote in a recent piece for The Spectator:

It’s reasonable to expect that any environmental organisation claiming to be a ‘charity’ would focus on delivering on-ground environmental benefits, like planting trees or feral weed mitigation. Groups like Landcare do exactly this type of work and rightly receive DGR status to help raise funds.

However, if some activist groups want to take this further through ‘direct action’ involving illegal activity, they should have to pay for it themselves. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidise crimes committed to promote activist campaigns and causes.”

Stand by for more faux outrage as the Government moves forward with the review.

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