Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s mining lobby wins, with government’s subtle tactic to hobble environmental groups

Government’s letter to conservation groups has ominous implications, GuardianLenore Taylor, @lenoretaylor New reporting rules seem to represent a big win for the campaign by the mining sector and conservative politicians to stifle environmental advocacy. 15 July 2017 

The environment department has recently begun sending letters to conservation groups registered as eligible for tax deductible donations, as they do every year. But this year the correspondence is different, in a disturbing way.

In the past the groups, which include all the big names such as the Australian Conservation Society, The Wilderness Society, Lock the Gate, Greenpeace etc, as well as small local conservation organisations, were simply asked to reveal the total expenditure from their public fund. This year they have also been asked to break down their expenditure into the amounts spent on “on ground environmental remediation”, “campaign and advocacy”, “research” and other administration.

It sounds like a boring technicality but it seems to represent a significant victory in the long-running campaign by the mining industry and conservative politicians to hobble advocacy for the environment.

According to the mining industry’s argument, enthusiastically adopted by conservative politicians including the resources minister, Matt Canavan, environmental groups should not be able to claim tax deductions for all the donations they get from members of the public who want to support their campaigns.

Canavan, while a backbencher, conducted his own deep investigation of green groups’ activities for a previous Senate inquiry, concluding that tax deductibility should be pared back……

The mining industry peak bodies believe they should themselves be free to campaign for public subsidies for new coal mines or coal-fired generators, or to spend millions to overturn a mining tax, in the interests of, and funded by, their cashed-up multinational members.

But they say the environmental groups that argue for the interests of the natural environment should be able to receive tax deductible donations only for “on ground environmental remediation” – planting trees and the like – and not for public debate and advocacy.

That’s why the new reporting requirements are seen as ominous……..

But if you believe Australia is a richer place for doing its part to address global warming, for limiting tree clearing, protecting endangered species or the Great Barrier Reef, or for insisting on proper remediation of mine sites, then it’s taxpayer money well spent. And, by definition, that’s a belief the hundreds of thousands of Australians who donate to environmental groups share.

And if you believe better decisions are reached when politicians, and the public, hear all the arguments, not just those from businesses with expert lobbying teams, why should a self-interested campaign by the mining industry get to disadvantage, even silence, all the voices that disagree with their business interests?

July 15, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: