The Courier-Mail

Taxation new battlegrou­nd for miners and green groups

- JOHN McCARTHY

THE major environmen­tal charities are raking in about $80 million a year as the mining industry questions the tax-free charity status they enjoy.

That status and whether the organisati­on is abiding by governing laws are about to be investigat­ed by a parliament­ary inquiry.

The most politicall­y active group, GetUp, sits outside the main group because it doesn’t have charity status.

Financial records show Greenpeace earned revenue of $17 million in 2013 and spent about $9 million on campaignin­g with a surplus of $3 million for the year.

The World Wildlife Fund earned almost $30 million in 2014 and ended up with a surplus of just $140,000.

The 1 Million Women organisati­on, which is campaignin­g to have the reef deemed “at risk’’ by UNESCO earned $432,000 in revenue with a surplus of $27,000.

The Queensland Conser- vation Council said the parliament­ary inquiry was an attempt to stifle groups that have become successful in combating mining developmen­t.

But the Queensland Resources Council said there were questions over whether some of the groups were politicall­y based or environmen­tally based.

“There are a lot of groups that look after the bushland or the beach and are doing good practical work,’’ QRC chief executive Michael Roche said. “But there are others that look more like a political organisati­on.

“They do TV ads against coal mining and fund trips overseas to pressure banks not to fund coal developmen­t.

“We believe they should be held accountabl­e under the Charities Act.’’

He said that meant they were not allowed to break the law which many did through protest actions such as boarding coal ships.

“We certainly believe existing rules are not being en- forced. The big bucks are going to groups which we believe are political organisati­ons.’’

However, Nikki Hungerford of the Queensland Conservati­on Council said some political think tanks also had tax-free status.

“My big concern is that this is a witch hunt and stifling democracy and free speech.’’

She said it was difficult to draw a line between environmen­tal advocacy and political activism.

 ??  ?? ACTIVISM: Greenpeace members paint a sign on a coal ship at Hay Point port in Queensland.
ACTIVISM: Greenpeace members paint a sign on a coal ship at Hay Point port in Queensland.

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