Charity Advocacy Petition Gets Attention
5 May 2015 at 11:56 am
Almost 90,000 people have signed a petition calling for the charity status of environmental and animal welfare organisations to be protected.
As reported by Pro Bono Australia News last month, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment, chaired by Liberal MP Alex Hawke, announced that it would be scrutinising tax-deductible donations made to environmental groups and their Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status.
Organisations labelled the move as an attack on their advocacy work, with CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Kelly O’Shanassy, telling Pro Bono Australia News that the inquiry “does look a lot like an attempt to stymie the work of people committed to protecting Australia’s environment for current and future generations”.
“While some politicians would be more comfortable if advocacy groups didn’t exist, democracies don’t work like that. Politicians should not be able to draw the line where it suits them just because they don’t like what we say from time to time,” O’Shanassy said.
“This latest attack won’t stop us from continuing to bring together people who love nature and strive to protect it.”
The petition, which has been uploaded onto the activist social network Care2, claims that animal welfare groups are facing the same “attacks”.
The petition has already been signed more than 86,000 times from people all over the world.
“The Australian Government is planning to revoke the charity status of animal welfare organisations and environmental groups,” the petition reads.
“The move would take away the democratic choice of Australians to give tax-deductible donations to their charities of choice.
“Furthermore, the Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce told the NSW Nationals annual conference recently that he will move to review the charity status of animal welfare organisations.
“This follows complaints by farmers and abattoir owners after animal welfare advocates trespassed on to piggeries and abattoirs to obtain undercover footage that exposed horrific treatment, which led to operations being shut down.
“Removing the charity status of animal welfare organisations and environmental groups is designed to protect the business interests of factory farmers and logging interests respectively and at the expense of animal welfare and the environment.”
At a recent gathering of the Not for Profit sector in Canberra, Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg denied that the Government was working to halt the advocacy work of organisations.
“I’m never going to give you the answer that you want but we are not intent on silencing voices,” Frydenberg said.