Australian news, and some related international items

Mining lobby out to silence environmental charities

Environmental Charities Engaged in Bitter Stand-Off with Mining Lobby Over Advocacy, Pro Bono, Luke Michael, 5 Sept 17,   Environmental charities and the mining lobby are engaged in a bitter stand-off over political advocacy, with the mining sector’s attempt to curtail environmental advocacy undermined by a new report accusing foreign mining companies of lobbying against Australian interests.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has made a submission to the Treasury’s Tax Deductible Gift Recipient Reform Opportunities inquiry, in which it recommended limiting environmental charities from using more than 10 per cent of their expenditure on advocacy.

In its submission, MCA outlined the importance of ensuring all organisations engaged in political advocacy were subject to the same rules of transparency.

“While political parties are obliged to disclose the source of donations greater than $13,200, environmental groups can spend millions of dollars every year without having to disclose the identities or locations of their donors,” the submission said.

“This lack of transparency constitutes a potential threat to Austalia’s [sic] sovereignty, by allowing foreign interests to exert political influence by covertly funding domestic environmental groups.”

This comes as the Australia Institute released a discussion paper last Friday, which examined the mining industry’s own tax-deductible advocacy and found it to be controlled by foreign interests.

“The mining industry is 86 per cent foreign owned and has spent over $541 million in the last 10 years on lobbying Australian governments through its peak lobby groups, which are dominated by foreign interests,” the paper said.

“The MCA lobbies to maintain subsidies and tax concessions for mining companies which costs Australian taxpayers billions every year.”

The Australia Institute found that the decision-making bodies of industry lobby groups were dominated by representatives from foreign owned companies, which were having an undue effect on government policy.

“By influencing Australian government decision-making through spending hundreds of millions of dollars on political donations and lobbying, foreign mining companies are attempting to have their corporate interests prioritised over the interests of Australian communities, environments and industries. This level of influence can distort sound economic policy making,” the paper said…….

Paul Sinclair, the campaign director at the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), told Pro Bono News the Australia Institute report revealed the damaging effect of the mining lobby’s political advocacy.   “Donors don’t give money to political parties for no reason, many of them expect a policy outcome,” Sinclair said.

“The Australia Institute report shows there is a clear correlation between donations being made by mining companies and policy outcomes like destroying the price on pollution that was pushing down Australia’s pollution levels.”

He said the mining lobby’s push to limit the advocacy activities of environmental groups would have a disastrous effect on these organisations.

“If the ACF was banned from using more than 10 per cent of our expenditure on advocacy, we would cease to be the organisation that Australians have supported for over 50 years,” Sinclair said……


September 6, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics

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