After yesterdayâ€™s ruling by the High Court that overturned the Australian Tax Officeâ€™s decision to remove deductible gift recipient â€œcharityâ€ status for left-wing group â€œAid/Watchâ€ it is clear the law needs to be changed to stop politicians from rorting charity structures for political gain.
The High Courtâ€™s controversial decision overturned an earlier Federal Court decision that confirmed the ATOâ€™s decision.
The Courtâ€™s judgment is here.
It could open the floodgates to taxpayer subsidised political front-groups manipulating and influencing elections.
Many environmental groups have been actively involved in doing this already. And now it seems groups like GetUp! â€“ a left-wing online political group â€“ will also claim â€œcharityâ€ status in a move that could cost taxpayers many tens of millions of dollars as their donors will be able to reduce the amount of tax they have to pay by claiming the donation as a deduction.
With the federal government running a $60 billion budget deficit, this is a highly symbolic and potentially uncapped attack on the public revenue that in our view makes a joke of the arrangements that encourage members of the community to donate their hard-earned money to real charities like the Salvoâ€™s or the Brotherhood of St Lawrence.
No genuine charity puts out How To Vote cards, or electoral score-cards, or focuses on electing a particular type of politician during elections. Many currently registered environmentalist and other pro-Green groups have engaged in this activity, at the most recent state Victorian election and federal election this year.
The law ought not prevent an organisation from giving comment in the media about their views, thatâ€™s a healthy part of political debate.
But when these â€œcharityâ€ groups act like political front-groups for political parties, handing out material at polling places, demonstrating against political candidates, urging a vote for one party over others then they are not only gaming or rorting the system they are thoroughly discrediting and undermining the special tax status given by the community to groups engaged in helping the communityâ€™s most disadvantaged and vulnerable.
Itâ€™s always the way with the ultra-left: their passion for power hurts people.
Why donâ€™t these groups like Climate Action Network or Environment Victoria register as the political parties they essentially are? For a start donations over $1500 arenâ€™t deductible and thereâ€™s a disclosure and regulatory regime thatâ€™s much stricter than the charity one.
The most recent Wilderness Society annual report showed they received a $600,000 donation and dozens over $10,000 in the space of a year for a total of $15 million for they year.
TWS possibly does good works and we have no issue with them expressing views and engaging in debate but when they wish to act like a political party â€“ or as a front-group for one â€“ then they ought to be obliged to establish as one.
And of course they wonâ€™t want to do that because these enviro groups already have a party they support, whose votes they donâ€™t wish to divide: the Greens political party.
Now the High Court has ruled on this, itâ€™s vitally important the Parliament establish clear rules that will prevent taxpayer subsidised â€œcharityâ€ groups from playing politics in election campaigns. Itâ€™s not just elections theyâ€™re manipulating, they are attacking the whole basis of community support for enabling charity donors to deduct their gifts. And thatâ€™s too important to mess with just to satisfy the political ambitions of sleazy Greens party politicians.