Late night break-ins. Illegal blockades. Damage to property and theft of stock. These are the types of unlawful behaviours promoted and engaged in by activist organisations masquerading as charities that will no longer be tolerated under strengthened rules to be implemented by the Morrison Government.
“Charities hold a special place in the minds of Australians, and they do vital work across our community. As such, they also receive special status,” said Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters, Zed Seselja.
“The Government strongly supports the right to peaceful, lawful protest. It is one of our key democratic principles. However, some organisations are using their position as charities to engage in, promote and condone activities that are not legitimate charitable acts and are, quite frankly, criminal.”
“The Australian taxpayer subsidises charities through tax concessions, with the expectation the money goes to charitable works, not supporting unlawful behaviour.”
Under current rules, charities are prohibited from engaging in conduct that may be dealt with either as an indictable offence under Australian law, or by way of a civil penalty of 60 penalty units. However, many other unlawful activities are not covered.
“The Morrison Government is taking the very reasonable step to strengthen the existing regulation.”
Under the new regulations, offences including trespass, unlawful entry, malicious damage or vandalism, or threatening violence will be added.
“In addition, charities will also be prohibited from using their resources to promote or support others to engage in such unlawful activity,” Assistant Minister Seselja said.
The new standards will be given effect through amendments to the Governance Standards contained in the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Regulation 2013. Treasury will be seeking submissions from the public on the amendments in early 2021.
“The Government recognises that charities play a crucial and significant role in the Australian community, and the vast majority of charities are doing the right thing and providing valuable services. This measure is part of the Government’s plan to uphold public trust in our charities,” Assistant Minister Seselja concluded.