Majority Of Australians Think Green Groups Should Be Able To Keep Tax Free Status

Australian voters have rejected overwhelmingly the so called “government vendetta” on environmental groups. The latest polling suggests that as much as 70 per cent of the electorate oppose any decision that would deny green groups status as charities. The idea to remove environmental group’s status as charities was first put forward by Andrew Nikolic who was a key backer of Tony Abbot. Such a move would cost these groups hundreds of millions of dollars in tax free income and curtail their ability to campaign effectively.

Public wants government to bin proposed changes

Pressure has been intensifying on the government to bin its proposed changes with both the Green Party and Labor indicating they would oppose any moves on the issue. Most green groups believe the reason behind the proposal is to restrict their capacity to campaign against mining projects. Mr. Abbot was extremely critical of environmental groups that worked to delay the huge expansion of coal exports through the Great Barrier Reef.

Polling shows overwhelming support

The Australian Institute recently conducted some polling which showed as much as 68 per cent support the rights of environmental groups to claim charity status and be able to engage in environmental campaigns and push for changes to policy. Only 27 per cent of those polls felt that green groups wielded too much influence whilst 38 per cent said they did not have enough. An overwhelming majority said that big business and mining companies had too much influence.

“Advocacy, whether on behalf of vulnerable children, Indigenous communities, veterans or the environment is an essential part of our democracy,” said Australia Institute director Ben Oquist,

Alex Hawke who heads the inquiry into the changes has been replaced by John Cobb. According to Mr. Hawke’s office the change was simply due to the fact that he has been promoted to Assistant Treasurer as part of Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet reshuffle following his ascendancy to Prime Minister.

New inquiry chairman John Cobb said the inquiry was “not a witch-hunt on the environment, it’s to find out whether the taxpayer and the organisations actually gel, and it’s to find out what the activists undertake — what percentage of the work is real work”.

Government accused of witch hunt

Queensland MP George Christensen who is a member of the committee took to Twitter back in July and taunted some environmental groups saying that they needed to get their donations in now because he couldn’t see tax free status continuing much longer. Green groups responded by saying the taunts were proof the government was engaging in a witch hunt designed to keep opposition to contentious environmental decisions quiet.

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