Australian green activists under the tax spotlight

first_imgThe Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has welcomed the report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment into the register of environmental organisations and urges the Turnbull Government to implement its recommendations.In Australia, registered environmental organisations are entitled to receive income tax deductible gifts and contributions, just like public hospitals, volunteer fire brigades and registered public benevolent institutions.Brendan Pearson, Chief Executive, MCA explains that “while the report recognises the important conservation work carried out by the majority of registered environmental organisations, it also provides substantial evidence that a minority of groups are misusing tax-deductible donations to fund or carry out activities that are unlawful, unsafe or politically partisan.“The report notes that a number of industry associations and companies, as well as the police forces of NSW and Victoria, submitted evidence of protest activity by registered environmental organisations that has ‘involved series risks to the safety of employees, volunteers, and other members of the community.’”The MCA considers that the bipartisan recommendations made by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment will help reassure the public that tax concessions granted to registered environmental organisations are being used for their intended policy purpose.“In particular, it is appropriate that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), rather than the Department of the Environment, administer the endorsement process, as the ATO has the expertise and resourcing to assess applications more efficiently and transparently.“It is also reasonable that environmental organisations seeking deductible gift recipient status must register as an environmental charity through the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. This change would ensure that all environmental deductible gift recipients, and not just those who are also registered charities, are clearly prohibited from pursuing purposes that are illegal or party-political.”It’s not okay for a charity to have a purpose to:Engage in or promote activities that are unlawful.Engage in or promote activities that are contrary to public policy (which, in this context, means the rule of law, the constitutional system, the safety of the public or national security).Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche appeared as a witness at one of the Australia-wide hearings last year, and said it was high time the light was shone onto the questionable activities of some green activist groups.“The myriad of evidence uncovered as a result of the inquiry reveals that some green activists – not all – may have been breaching the rules of the tax system,” Roche said.“Registered environmental organisations accounted for approximately $45 million in foregone tax revenue in 2013-14 alone,” Person said.He concluded that “these are moderate and bipartisan recommendations from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment.”The map shows the location of the proposed Carmichael coal mine which has been subject to serious environmental terrorism.last_img read more