Taxation new battleground for miners and green groups
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.