(Another) attack on environment groups
The Coalition government is trying to silence anyone who stands up for the environment.
Some of their actions include:
- The new Standing Committee on the Environment review of tax deductibility for environment groups listed on the Minister’s Register (see below).
- The push by Minister Richard Colbeck for a secondary boycott ban to apply to environmental groups.
- The recently released ‘Re:think, Better Tax system Better Australia’ discussion paper which calls for a review of the Not for Profit sector’s tax deductibility.
- The cuts to the Environment Defenders Office (EDOs).
- The government has axed the Grants to Voluntary Environment, Sustainability and Heritage Organisations to 150 groups in the 2014 budget. This program had bipartisan support since it was set up in the 1970s.
Is the new Inquiry the government’s chance to take green groups tax status off them?
It has been announced that the House of Representatives Environment Committee will hold an inquiry into environmental groups who are eligible to receive Tax-deductible donations.
While the chair of the Committee has assured us ‘it’s not a witch hunt’, it is hard to see this as anything but another part of theideological attack on the environment movement being waged by the Abbott government.
The Committee says “over 600 environmental groups are currently deductible gift recipients (DGRs). This allows them to access tax-deductible donations to fund important, practical work to improve the natural environment. We need to ensure that tax deductible donations, which are a generous concession from the taxpayer, are used for the purpose intended and expected by the community.”
[Above: the FoE International meeting in Sri Lanka, 2014. The environment needs strong voices.]
The terms of reference suggest that activities which involve on-ground environmental works constitute ‘appropriate’ activity.