May 21st 2016

  Buy Issue 2972

Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY It's a queer theory, with 51 closets to come out of (Part One of two parts)

CANBERRA OBSERVED Labor may find it's not easy to avoid being green

EDITORIAL Double-dissolution trigger may have misfired

ENVIRONMENT Cut tax breaks to wonky green groups: committee

HUMAN RIGHTS Honorary fellow means to dishonourable end

POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY Remembering "populate or perish": Arthur Calwell

EUTHANASIA Belgium: where the devil is refining the details

RESEARCH The scientific objectivity of gender difference (Part Two of two)

MUSIC The muse, leisure and the importance of play

CINEMA Technology and war's cost: Eye in the Sky

BOOK REVIEW Preserving essential social values

BOOK REVIEW Putting postmodernism in its grave



Books promotion page

Cut tax breaks to wonky green groups: committee

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, May 21, 2016

A House of Representatives committee has recommended that environmental groups that receive tax-deductible donations should have to spend at least 25 per cent of their money on direct environmental remediation, and tax concessions should not be available to those involved in direct political or criminal activity.

Greenpeace: Innocent and responsible.

The recommendations are contained in a 144-page report tabled in the House on May 4. The ALP members on the committee opposed these recommendations, so their implementation will depend on the outcome of the forthcoming federal election.

The inquiry into tax deductibility for environmental organisations had been sought by Environment Minister Greg Hunt in May 2015.

While acknowledging the very good work many organisations such as Landcare do in protecting the natural environment, the committee found that the supervision of what are known as DGRs (deductible gift recipients) is almost non-existent. There are 596 environmental organisations with DGR status.


In its foreword, the report says: “This inquiry considered the administration and transparency of the Register of Environmental Organisations, which is the Commonwealth scheme to enable eligible environmental organisations to receive tax-deductible donations.

“Consistent with the terms of reference, the focus of the inquiry was on the effectiveness of the register in supporting communities to undertake practical action to improve the environment. “In preparing the report of the inquiry, the committee has identified measures to strengthen the integrity of tax-concessional arrangements for environmental organisations.

“The committee has also identified scope to streamline the administration of the system. The recommendations outlined in the report are intended to make the system clearer for donors, environmental organisations, and the wider community.”

The committee found that the system of registration was unnecessarily complex and recommended that responsibility for registration be transferred from the Department of the Environment to the Australian Tax Office, as is the case in other countries where such concessions exist.

During the year-long inquiry, the committee heard a range of community concerns about the activities of some environmental organisations with DGR status. Concerns were expressed about inaccurate or misleading information in advertisements and campaigns coordinated by some environmental organisations.

Not surprisingly, the environmentalists claimed that they were always accurate, and never misleading.

The committee heard concerns about the activities of some environmental groups leading to adverse economic and social impacts, particularly in regional communities. In particular, stakeholders voiced concern about activities aimed at impeding development in resource industries such as coalmining and natural gas.

“As an example, stakeholders raised the Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom strategy, which was developed with input from members of several environmental organisations.

“Elements of the strategy include disrupting and delaying mining and infrastructure projects, creating a perception of risk in relation to coal investments, and eroding public and political support for the coal industry.”

Again, the environmentalists claimed that they always worked with local communities. One activist is quoted as saying: “I cannot think of a campaign that we operate anywhere in the country where we have not gone and spent the time working with the local community” (meaning, with local greenies).

The committee also heard examples of environmental groups campaigning in recent state and federal elections, through activities including doorknocking in marginal seats, lobbying candidates, and distributing scorecards evaluating or ranking the policies of various political parties.

Unsurprisingly, the environmentalists claimed that they always acted in an independent and non-partisan way.

The committee also heard claims of environmental groups involved in illegal activities, including trespass, damage and destruction of property, blocking access, maritime offences, and resisting and hindering police.

In its submission to the inquiry, Greenpeace stated that “non-violent direct action” was “one of [its] key methods for protecting the environment”.

The committee noted stakeholders’ concerns about “the activity of a small number of environmental DGRs, ranging from providing false and misleading information to serious instances of criminal activity”. It said that “additional administrative sanctions, including revocation of DGR status, should apply to environmental DGRs that support or are associated with illegal or unlawful activity”.

At present, there is no effective supervision of these organisations, which, in some cases, receive the benefit of millions of dollars in tax-deductible donations. It will be the responsibility of the next Parliament to say what should be done about this.

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

Join email list

Join e-newsletter list

Your cart has 0 items

Subscribe to NewsWeekly

Research Papers

Trending articles

COVER STORY Wildfires: Lessons from the past not yet learnt

HUMAN RIGHTS A Magnitsky-style law for Australia?

GENDER POLITICS In trans Newspeak, parental consent is a 'hurdle'

EDITORIAL America 'resets' foreign policy on China and Russia

CANBERRA OBSERVED After the fires, we still need an economy and to power it

LAW AND SOCIETY Cardinal Pell and the Appeal Court judges

HUMOUR The MacStuttles probe

© Copyright 2017
Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm