Charity status for protest groups under threat

The NSW Minerals Council have launched a new attack on coal protesters, calling for the charity status of organisations like Lock the Gate to be revoked.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said groups that engage in illegal protests should not qualify for tax breaks.

“We are calling on the Australian government to review the DGR [Deductible Gift Recipient ] status of all these groups,” Galilee said.

“Groups that flout the law or encourage others to do so should not receive special treatment.”

However, Lock the Gate national co-ordinator Phil Laird said the move was another bullying tactic from the mining industry.

“It’s outrageous that the mining industry thinks it can shut down a charity which was created to provide basic support for farmers who are being booted off their land or having their water supplies ruined by multinational mining companies,” Laird said.

National Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said organisations should not lose their charity status for campaigning on issues of broad public concern, as groups were forced to use peaceful civil disobedience techniques to raise awareness of injustices and protect natural heritage areas.

The six-day ‘Bat Attack’ rally kicked off in the Leard State forest over the weekend with activists locking themselves to bulldozers at the Maules Creek mine site.

Seven people were arrested at the protest on Sunday, and more than 250 people have been arrested since direct action protests began 13 months ago.

The protest comes as Whitehaven Coal prepares to clear more of the Leard state Forest as part of the mine’s construction.

Activists claim the work will cause harm to a number of bat species, with more than 200 people turning out on Sunday in a bid to protect the forest.

Lock the Gate have called on NSW premier Mike Baird to keep election promises made by former premier Barry O’Farrell to prohibit mining in water catchment areas and protect farmland and water resources from the impacts of mining.

The premier has been bombarded by protesters and activists in the past few days, in the Hunter Valley and Sydney, while others have protested at the office of federal agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce in Tamworth.

Lock the Gate co-ordinator Georgina Woods said new plans for speedy mining approvals in the NSW Minerals Council election agenda represented an “anti-community” agenda.

“In the last few months, Mike Baird has parroted the Minerals Councils’ agenda in promising faster mining approvals and harsher penalties for landholders that dare to stand up to the mining industry,” she said.

“It’s no wonder he’s being greeted with protest wherever he goes.”

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