Mine lobby wants protesters to pay
A NSW mining lobby wants charity status removed from protest groups that fight to interrupt industries in the name of conservation.
Coal and gas mining has been the biggest target of late, as the ecologically-minded try to protect native flora, fauna and water.
NSW Minerals Council Chief Executive Stephen Galilee says groups engaged in “illegal protests” should not be tax free.
“We are calling on the Australian Government to review the DGR (Deductible Gift Recipient) status of all these groups,” Galilee said.
“Professional anti-mining activist groups who engage in illegal protests or who encourage others to do so should not qualify for tax deductibility.
“There are activist groups out there that campaign against the livelihood of mining workers and their families; who engage in illegal protests that put themselves and others in harm’s way.
“The fact that these groups can ask the public for money, promoting donations as being ‘tax deductible’ is an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars.
“An analysis of organisations with tax deductible gift recipient status reveals a number of groups whose leadership have either been involved in illegal protest, advocated ‘civil disobedience’ or campaigned against mining jobs.”
Phil Laird, National Coordinator of the anti-gas advocacy group Lock the Gate Alliance says the call by the NSW Minerals Council is an outrageous attempt to silence farmers speaking out about their concerns.
Laird says the public must be allowed to hear from farmers, local residents, expert and activists.
“This smacks of bullying - mining giants kicking communities while they are down, and trying to shut down the one organisation that is there to help them out,” Laird said.
"The Lock the Gate Alliance operates in accordance with a peaceful code of conduct and our main purpose is to protect farmland, environmentally sensitive areas and water resources, and to advocate for people whose properties, livelihoods or health are at risk from unsafe mining operations.
"It's inappropriate for the industry to try and silence community debate... and to take away the basic right of people to have a charity who advocates on their behalf when they are up against some of the biggest mining companies in the world.”
The Community Council for Australia (CCA) says many charities’ work is about strengthening communities, instead of individual or private interests.
“The issue of advocacy by charities is often challenged by vested interests who oppose charities speaking out on behalf of the communities they serve and represent,” CCA CEO David Crosbie said.
“Thankfully the High Court and the recently passed new Definition of Charity regulations protect the right of charities to advocate, even if the advocacy upsets the interests of those seeking to generate individual wealth and personal benefit.
“It is also important to acknowledge the need for charities to be focused on achieving a public benefit, which is why the whole charities and Not for Profit sector have so strongly endorsed and supported the work of the independent regulator for the sector, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).
“If people have concerns that a charity is not serving the community or working to fulfil its purpose, they can very easily lodge their complaints and have them investigated by this new charities watchdog. The real concern here is that the Federal government has sought to dismantle rather than support the work of the ACNC.”