Calls to stop tax benefits for activist groups

A Federal inquiry has recommended changing the tax status of activist groups claiming to be environmental charities while engaging in illegal activity.

NSW Mineral Council CEO Stephen Galilee called on the Federal Government to heed these recommendations, saying protest groups in NSW, including Lock the Gate and CounterAct, conduct workshops and training programs on ways to break the law as a form of protest.

“People are encouraged to engage in civil disobedience that often includes trespass, blockading of public roads, and interfering with dangerous heavy equipment,” he said.

“These groups have been receiving special tax treatment as donations to them are tax deductible – the same tax treatment received by the Salvos or Mission Australia.”

The report recommendation calls for administrative sanctions, including removing the tax deductibility status from environmental deductible gift recipient groups that encourage or endorse or illegal activities conducted by members or volunteers of the organisation.

Other recommendations include the payment of fines and penalties to be gathered, and the value of each environmental groups annual spending on environmental remediation work be no less than 25 per cent of the organisations annual public fund expenditure.

“By adopting these recommendation, the Federal Government can ensure that special tax treatment goes to environmental charities that actually conduct real on-ground environmental remediation work, not professional activists that encourage people to break the law,” Galilee said.

Protests against mining operations have long been active including, blockades, gate lockings, and stage ins, with some activists chaining themselves to conveyors at Whitehaven’s Narrabri mine earlier this year.

Late last year, activists at Port Kembla were arrested for chaining themselves to coal port machinery to protest coal mining.

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