Today The Australian Financial Review published an article titled ‘Charity faces loss of tax perks for anti-coal campaign’. Written by Phillip Coorey the piece outlines the current investigation underway by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) into the charitable status of 350.org Australia. (See below for details from the article)
Although proceedings began over a year ago, this investigation has been on public record from October 19 this year when 350 Australia launched the Hands off our Charities campaign.
As you would recall, 350 was very open about the reasons ACNC gave for its investigation.
We reject out-of-hand any notion that we are in breach of the Charities Act.
The major issue referenced in the article is the Break Free event in Newcastle which 350 helped coordinate in May 2016. It was one of more than 30 global events on six continents with over 2,000 people taking part in Australia alone. As an instance of people standing up to demand urgent climate action, it was very powerful and very successful.
We believe legal non-violent protest is a valid and essential element of democracy. We do not shy away from that. Through protest ordinary citizens stopped some of Australia’s most valued environmental treasures from being destroyed including the Franklin River, the Daintree rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.
350 advocates strongly for action on climate change. That is why we exist. We are not party political. We do not promote any political candidates.
– From Glen for the 350 team (Blair, Louise, Danielle, Jackson, Neha, Jake, Maggie, Esther, Keith, Brea and Andrew)
PS: There is no escaping that it’s been a tough year. Thanks to supporters like you, however, we have not diverted from our main task of advocating for an end to fossil fuels and a just transition to renewable energy.
If you believe in a robust charity sector, and are alarmed by the aggressive tactics used by the minerals lobby and elements of the federal government to silence defenders of the environment, we hope we can continue to rely on your support. We ask that you consider chipping in so that we can continue to be strong advocates on climate change, and fight the good fight.
Detail from AFR article
“ A climate group which campaigns against fossil fuels is facing the loss of its charity status and the tax perks that come with it after being accused of political campaigning
The organisation, 350.org, is under investigation by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) for helping organise an event in Newcastle in May last year.
Described at the time as the biggest anti-coal protest in Newcastle’s history, about 2000 people blockaded the Port of Newcastle where coal is loaded. A handful of celebrity musicians as well as Greens leader Richard Di Natale attended the event which 350.org helped organise.
But its actions potentially put it in breach of the Charities Act which cites as grounds for disqualification “engaging in, or promoting, activities that are unlawful or contrary to public policy”.
If it loses its charitable status, 350.org would lose its exemptions from income tax, fringe benefits tax and GST.”